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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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Take Me To Your Leader

The accepted folkways of the big league clubhouse escape me. Even having grown up watching a team whose acknowledged leader — the player whose mere presence was and is universally acknowledged to have transformed the attitude of all those around him — was a pitcher, I’ve been hearing all my life that a pitcher can’t be a team’s leader. Even after watching a team derive its heart and soul from a relief pitcher as it followed his philosophy to nearly ultimate victory, I’ve been hearing all my life that a pitcher can’t be a team’s leader. Even after watching a team rally around another relief pitcher, one who was its seniormost member and clearly its dean, and agree it was right and proper to affix a “C” to his uniform, I’ve been hearing all my life that a pitcher, because he’s not an everyday player, can’t be a team’s leader. Captain, sure. Leader, no way.

All right, then. Tell me somebody besides Gil Hodges led Tom Seaver. Tell me somebody besides Tom Seaver led Tug McGraw. Tell me anybody could have led John Franco. And find me the Met whom Pedro Martinez could or should possibly fall in behind.

Pedro marches at the front of this parade as long as he’s around. To pretend that anybody else does is folly. For these New York Mets, it’s Pedro or it’s nobody. For too long it’s been nobody. For now, let’s say it’s Pedro.

Leading by example, it is universally agreed, is the way to go. Pedro’s examples get your attention. Pedro taking the ball Tuesday night, no matter how cold Phone Company Park was, no matter the wind that blew off the China Basin, got your attention. Pedro bearing down in the fifth got your attention. Pedro coming back for the sixth really got your attention. Pedro singling twice and driving in a run didn’t escape notice either. Pedro is a singular talent. Pedro is a singular presence. Pedro is more than that. Pedro is a magnet. He draws eyeballs, he draws teammates, he draws victories.

Somewhere in the middle of this cathartic and joyous Pedrofest, Ron Darling began to say how good it was for the Mets to have their leader back. But then, realizing of course that teams simply can not be led by a pitcher — I’m guessing Darling’s thought process was intimidated by his former first baseman and captain sitting next to him in the booth — he amended his statement to say the Mets’ pitchers had their leader back.

They sure did. So did the Mets’ catchers, the Mets’ infielders and the Mets’ outfielders. I suspect Mets management will gladly follow where Pedro Martinez leads. He’s got the fans’ support, that’s for sure. Pedro Martinez is pied piper with bulging portfolio. Pedro Martinez backs up his words with pitching and backs up his pitching with personality, with charisma, with a sense of right and wrong and responsibility and with honest-to-goodness leadership.

What the hell is leadership when it comes to baseball? I’m with Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart when he groped to define obscenity: I know it when I see it. For the first third of 2008, leadership was obscenely lacking on the New York Mets. In San Francisco Tuesday night, I knew when I saw it. Now pitching and now leading the New York Mets, number 45, Pedro Martinez.

15 comments to Take Me To Your Leader

  • Anonymous

    i've been saying it for a while. Pedro is the biggest difference in the clubhouse between 2006 and 07/08.
    he's back, and though i fretted every moment he was out there (and every moment he wasn't), he made for thrilling baseball. we got to think through the giants lineup with him, and enjoy his two hits and ribbie with him, and watch a blowout come as his teammates felt their own boats lifted by the rising pedro tide on san francisco bay.
    the trouble is, of course, we don't know how many starts he can give the team before something pops or tweaks or twinges. but at least for now, while he's out there or in the dugout, the mets are a totally different squad. don't mess with the petey.

  • Anonymous

    It's Pedro Martinez's world. We merely live in it.

  • Anonymous

    groped to define obscenity”
    Ha ha.

  • Anonymous

    Letter perfect post Greg! I also think that the Mets inspired play lately has had a little something to do with Pedro being back with the team.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Greg,
    One could see the growing confidence of his team mates as each inning went by, not only admiring the way his velocity and location of pitches grew until his arm got tired around the fifth inning but by seeing a Pedro who was perfectly healed – no problem with the elbow, no hamstring worries, no need to favor a toe or anything else and no problem pitching in the cold windy confines of Candlestick II. It was the shot of adreneline we all hoped for but didn't count on. The return of Pedro was like a classic car being restored and again ready to rumble! Six innings, 109 pitches which included seven hits and three walks yet only three runs because after allowing two in the fifth, he pitched his way out of trouble…, and none in the sixth after the first two reached base.
    It affects the whole pitching staff. We got the one-two-three punch we hoped for in the spring, there will be less dependence upon (and less pressure on) Oliver Perez to pick up the slack, less ineed for Willie to go early and tax his pen too much. It's all addition without any subtraction!
    Who can recall a pitcher out for most of two-plus seasons and come back as if he had never been gone? Thank you Pedro!
    And to top it off, a colleague of mine came into my office – a Yankee fan who said he just didn't want to talk about baseball for a week. Guess for him, it was all subtraction through meaningless addition.

  • Anonymous

    Adding to my last sentence above, a quote from the Toronto Manager regarding Chamberlain: “I know he's got great stuff. But at the same time, I'm just as glad not to have to be seeing him in the eighth innings of this series.”
    Who's now saying “Fire Willie”?

  • Anonymous

    I love Potter Stewart references.
    Seriously – I do.

  • Anonymous

    SNY showed a clip of us in Mezz 18 when Pedro came back to Shea against the Reds last year holding up our life-size “WELCOME HOME PEDRO” signs before the game in a montage. I feel somewhat honored

  • Anonymous

    Last night held a proud moment for me as–uh, a Mets teacher, I suppose–when my girlfriend watched Pedro and said, “you know, I think I can say he's my favorite Met. Ever. Even though he's always broken.”
    This is the first time she's ever made such a declaration. I introduced her to baseball in 98, and since then she's grown from bystander to fan to speechless-dumbfounded-and-angry-on-September-30th (funny story, believe it or not: when the collape of 98 finished, I popped open a beer and started drinking. She couldn't understand why the Mets caused me to drink in the afternoon. When the collapse of 07 finished, she said, “get me a beer”). I was pretty amazed she would sign-up with Pedro. Being she joined the Mets at the same time as Piazza, I figured it would be him.
    Pedro was the first free-agent signing she was ever excited about. She'd never seen him pitch, really, but I had been singing his praises every year, telling her what a truly remarkable pitcher he is and how amazing it is to watch him. I made him a legend in her brain. So when she found out we got him it was, “really?! The Mets got Pedro?! Yay!”
    Now that we're nearing the end of that contract, we can look back and see 1 great year, 1 work in progress, and 2 seasons wasted to injury. If this were any other player, I'd think we would be cursing the piles of money that have gone to waste. But we can't. It's Pedro.
    So even though he's usually broken, “yeah,” I told her, “that's a good choice.”

  • Anonymous

    I THOUGHT THAT WAS YOU! :)

  • Anonymous

    MARRY THAT GIRL!

  • Anonymous

    SNY added some sort of 'sparkle' filter over the letters that spelled “PEDRO.” They either did this to emphazise his name or to cover/mask the fact that i wrote “KOWALSKI” vertically down the P.
    It wasnt a reflection of the sun because I made those letters out of oak tag lmao

  • Anonymous

    “She couldn't understand why the Mets caused me to drink in the afternoon”.
    The Mets have done so to me many times. As have other sports teams, music groups, it being nice out, it being cold out, seeing a beer comercial on TV…
    The afternoon buzz is vastly underrated.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent post.
    Lifelong Red Sox fan here, but it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling to hear this morning that Petey's return went ok.
    He'll always be in my heart because of the Cleveland 1999 ALDS relief appearance, pitching on guts and heart and baling wire and tape, and because of Game 7 2004 ALCS-going right into the heart of the lion's den and getting 3 outs, albeit allowing 2 runs, when we needed them, with the mob howling for his blood.

  • Anonymous

    I also became a real fan around '98 when Piazza showed up and made the Mets relevant again. He is my favorite Met. But as he's now long since vacated the premises, Pedro is my favorite current Met, even when he's on the DL, but especially when he's just coming off it. All too familiar feeling. But man is it good.