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Glory Day

I’d had a vague plan to go see the Glory Days [1] exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York today. It’s been on my to-do list since before it opened and it’s right up (or, technically, across town [2] from) my alley.

But then I learned Pedro Martinez would be starting in Cincinnati. That’s enough glory for any day.

Pedro is back. Pedro is back. Say it again ’cause it feels so good…Pedro Martinez is an active pitcher for the New York Mets once more.

It wasn’t just a glory day. It was a spiritual Opening Day II [3].

How is it that Pedro Martinez has only pitched one Opening Day for the New York Mets? He was on a different schedule (he usually is) in ’06 and was busy pounding an unfathomable comeback trail this past spring. But the first Opening Day, Pedro’s Opening Day, will always stay with you if you’re a Mets fan. You can’t look at us in Cincinnati without thinking of the beginning of the Pedro era, the 12 strikeouts in six innings [4] that told us that this Pedro Martinez, late of Boston, Montreal, L.A. and the Dominican, was going to be a fine fit for Nueva York, for Los Nuevos Mets. With hindsight, you can look past Braden Looper’s anagramic meltdown [5] from April 4, 2005 and just remember Pedro being Pedro.

We’ve got a new and better Great American Ball Park image where our Great American Ball Club is concerned. The layoff is over. The rehab is over. The spate of reports on what Pedro was doing against batters from Manatee and Jupiter is over. Pedro Martinez is all Metted up again. And we are totally Pedroed.

They gave him 75 pitches. He took 76. Five innings, three runs. Not a quality start by definition, only the best one of the year. Command? Yes. Control? Yes. Velocity? Enough. Movement? He’s Pedro. He moves to a rhythm that’s all his own.

Pedro recorded his 3,000th strikeout (I’d like to think the Shea scoreboard lit up at last for him; it’s been known to do so even when he’s not in residence [6]). The inevitable if seemingly unreachable milestone reminded me of another Labor Day, another great Labor Day [7] in Mets history: September 1, 1975. Tom Seaver struck out his 200th batter of the season, the record-setting eighth consecutive season he’d done that. There were all kinds of good signs in that game: Bud Harrelson’s return, Mike Vail’s first homer, the Mets pulling within four of the Pirates thanks to Tom shutting them out.

The year peaked right then and there for the ’75 Mets [8], but on this day, with Wright and Alou and Castillo and Delgado all contributing and the Phillies losing and our streak growing and our margin lengthening, it doesn’t feel like the end of summer. It feels like the beginning of something better. It feels like Pedro Martinez was on the hill to open 2007 and that the true glory days of these Mets have just commenced.

Pedro Martinez will do that for ya.