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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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Pedro's Place

One of the very silliest things a very silly man who has a very large audience ever said regarded Pedro Martinez in April 2005. Pedro Martinez’s former team was presenting world championship rings to its players from the year before on the same day Pedro Martinez’s new team was opening its home season. Some of Pedro Martinez’s former teammates who were no longer with that team were flying in for the occasion because they weren’t playing for their new teams on that given day. As it happened, Pedro Martinez wouldn’t be pitching for his new team either. It wouldn’t have been a long flight had he decided to participate in his old team’s ceremonies, and nobody rational would have much begrudged him much his opting to briefly detour into his recent past as he had been such a large part of his old team. But he never looked back, never made any move to return to his old team, even for a celebratory cameo. He was with his new team to stay.

The silly man with the large audience managed to find fault in Pedro Martinez’s decision. “Pedro Martinez should be in Boston to get his ring,” the silly man said. “Pedro’s a Red Sock! Pedro’s not a Met!”

Idiot.

Sunday reminded us Pedro Martinez is more than a Met. He is the Met on these Mets. Due respect to other names and other numbers that dot the backs of our tribe, it is MARTINEZ 45 that truly cloaks us. He is the flagship player of this franchise. He is our banner, our symbol, our coat of arms. And when he showed up to pitch from the Shea Stadium mound for the first time in 2007, I was reminded as well that there is truth in advertising. It took 142 games, but our season had come.

Pedro Martinez has made 56 starts in a New York Mets uniform. Each one, no matter the outcome, has been a revelation in its way. Because of the mishaps and recurring hurts that eventually manifested themselves in the surgery that removed him from the rotation for nearly twelve months, it seems we are always welcoming him back to the mound. But even when he was a fifth-day staple throughout 2005 and the first third of 2006, it was never business as usual for a Pedro Martinez start. How could it be? This was a man who brought with him and unto us the most outsized reputation in all of pitching. You didn’t need statistics. You didn’t need footage. You just needed to hear “Pedro,” and no explanations were necessary. Fifty-five times before Sunday, when I checked to see who was pitching, it was never a small detail to confirm it would be Martinez (R). It wasn’t yesterday either.

Welcome back, Pedro. Again.

We surely haven’t received the Pedro of yore, the Pedro of before he signed. That Pedro was something to see from a distance. But we’re getting what we paid for. They said four years were too many to give someone already shading past his peak, someone so slight, someone brushing up against his physical breaking point. I’m sitting in the mezzanine yesterday thinking how sad it is we only have Pedro under contract for one more year.

This Pedro is something to see up close.

When has a five-inning start meant this much? When has a five-inning start sparked the kind of reverence this one did? I’ve been on hand for playoff games, for legitimate no-hit flirtations, for masterful shutouts, for strikeouts by the bushel, yet I’ve never been at Shea Stadium when the pitcher and the crowd were in such sync. I’ve never felt the kind of mass anticipation attached to a pitcher throwing his first pitch, his next pitch, his every pitch and his last pitch like I did for Pedro Martinez yesterday. I personally have never watched the radar readouts with as much concern nor had I ever kept my eye on the scoreboard’s PITCH COUNT line as diligently as I did yesterday. I was never simultaneously so caught up in one man’s moment of grace and rebirth yet so tangled up in anxiety and uncertainty regarding that man’s right arm. What happens in five or six days when it’s not the vapid Astros but the fearsome Phillies? What can he give us in three or four weeks if/when other games suddenly appear?

I don’t know the answers. But I do know I’d never before been part of a sustained fifth-inning curtain call for a pitcher because I’d never seen a return like the one proffered by Pedro Martinez Sunday. I’d never seen a pitcher wriggle free of two bases-loaded jams in the first four innings…and if I have, I’m sure I wasn’t nearly so confident that there would be no damage. I’d never seen a pitcher — except perhaps for this one once before (see No. 19) — figure out in front of tens of thousands of people what he wasn’t yet doing right and calculate precisely what he had to do to make it better as he went along. I’d never felt a pitcher this way. I never wanted to stand and cheer every strike, every ball, every throw he’d make, every swing he’d take.

Of course he got a long and loud curtain call for a five-inning shutout. He would have gotten it during his five-inning shutout if we were as good at applauding for him as Pedro Martinez is at pitching for us.

15 comments to Pedro’s Place

  • Anonymous

    I was there,too, yesterday……and you are not exagerating even a little bit…

  • Anonymous

    i was there too, with my boy…and all was well with the world.
    'cept for that nasty spot of mota. that was nervy to foist him upon the game (him and that first-pitch homer he served up), especially while the rest of us are all still in the buzz from the moments before. willie has a bit of the killjoy in him, i think.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    As much as I'm a Pedro fan, his no-show at Boston's ring ceremonies was less because he was a Met but more due to his resentment of Red Sox managment for not “respecting “him and offering a four-year deal — but that's the business side of baseball. Pedro has proved himself a loyal Met, puts out 100% and is a real humanitarian through all his charitable work and donations. The fact that Pedro's appearance in the clubhouse is lauded as turning the club around is all I need to know.
    WELCOME BACK PEDRO!

  • Anonymous

    You could have walked across the bridge from the 7 Subway line yesterday to take advantage of the opportunity to see Pedro and then Roger (no, not THAT Roger, the OTHER Roger) in one day. Both guys had their opponents muttering to themselves. Queens IS the capital of sport.
    One more comment: Someone really should have smacked Jose upside the head for first pitch swinging after Pedro got on with the bunt error. Jose, where IS your head lately? Simple common sense says that you take at least a pitch to give your pitcher (you remember him…the guy who just came back from flippin' SURGERY?) a chance to recover.

  • Anonymous

    The guys in the blimp could have watched both at the same time!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, that was effing BP. To Mota's credit, he unpretzeled himself, but it was a fright to watch. Kudos to Jose for trotting to the mound and whispering in his ear either “hit it to me, Papi” or “me and Pedro are going to jump you if you give up any more runs.”

  • Anonymous

    Maybe so, but John Henry wouldn't have kept him out. Regardless, the '05 Home Opener wouldn't have been the same without Pedro emerging from the dugout to entertain the folks when the batter's eye with his face got stuck between innings.

  • Anonymous

    Made all the more savory because who knows how many more of these we will get to see? I wish I could have been there. I can't believe my brother was in town and he didn't go. Loser.
    Did anyone else think, off the bat, for a split second, that Pedro's drive was gone?

  • Anonymous

    It seemed a little low for that fantasy to come true, but he hit it hard enough. Harder than Maine hit his in July. Smoked it, actually.

  • Anonymous

    “I've never been at Shea Stadium when the pitcher and the crowd were in such sync”
    Greg – you never witnessed any of Doc's starts from 84-85 in person?

  • Anonymous

    I did. And I took those incredible starts into consideration. The difference here, I believe, was then we were cheering the accomplishments. Here, in 2007, we were rooting on the person. Doc's pitching is what attracted him to us (nothing wrong with that) first and foremost. Also, in those magical years, there was no sense of welcoming back Doc because as long as we'd known him, he'd never been away. His return in 1987 was a different story, but even then, as much as I loved him (and he remains my second-favorite Met ever, behind only Tom), he was a ways back in the personality department compared to Pedro.

  • Anonymous

    This is true – there is no doubt the effect that Pedro's personality has on everyone. I will say that I don't think I've ever seen a Mets star that has so embraced the fans the way Pedro has.

  • Anonymous

    Pe-DRO, Pe-DRO, Pe-DRO!

  • Anonymous

    Well, as a Sox fan, I had no problem with Pedro not traveling to Boston for the ring ceremony – and that's not sour grapes on my part by any means. When a professional goes to a new team, the right thing to do is BE ON THE NEW TEAM. When a star and future Hall Of Famer goes to a new team, he should try to make the team his own, and that's what Pedro did. I salute him. I loved to have him with the Sox, I was sorry to see him go, but I like watching what he's doing for the Mets. (And at least he didn't pull a J*hnn* D*m*n.) Pedro's a class act, and you're damned lucky to have him.

    Maybe he'll get a shot at the Sox in the World Series — wouldn't that be one to see? Either the Sox would get one back at you, or you'd show us who's the boss for a second time. Either way, another classic.

    BTW, what's a Red Sox fan doing reading a Mets blog? Well, the Mets are okay by me, and I love the writing and the passion. You guys even have me looking at the NL East standings every day. Thanks, guys!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Randy, we appreciate your readership and the kind words. Haven't gotten nearly far enough ahead in my thinking to even imagine who we would play in a World Series since there is a division to be clinched still. But an interesting thought, nonetheless.
    Good luck to you and the Sox.