TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #2; Martinez no fool.

GAME 2: Martinez vs. Burnett

GAME 2: Martinez vs. Burnett

Don’t think for a minute Pedro Martinez didn’t know what he was saying the other day at his Yankee Stadium press conference. If the topic of his brawl with former Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer in Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS at Fenway Park wouldn’t have been asked, Martinez, no doubt, would have raised the issue. VIDEO

It has nothing to do with dissing the Yankees, but getting himself motivated. Martinez is one of those athletes who seeks the outside motivator. To be taunted tonight in Game 2 – “who’s your daddy?” – is what he lives for. Martinez relishes being booed. He has a me-against-the-world mentality.

THE BRAWL: One of Pedro's Greatest Hits.

THE BRAWL: One of Pedro's Greatest Hits.

Yesterday was for show, for fueling his competitive juices. Martinez is no longer the dominating figure who could back up the bravado with performance. Martinez is no longer the Cy Young Award winner who, when asked about the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, said: “I’m starting to hate talking about the Yankees. The questions are so stupid. They’re wasting my time. It’s getting kind of old … I don’t believe in damn curses. Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass, pardon me the word.”

Just as he gets by more on guile than his fastball on the mound, Martinez isn’t in position to boast anymore, so he played the misunderstood, scorned role. It’s how he built his competitive fire for Game 2 tonight when he starts against A.J. Burnett with the objective of giving the Phillies a 2-0 games lead and a grip on the World Series when it heads to Philadelphia Saturday.

Phillies manager Charlie Manuel tabbed the mercenary Martinez because of his ability to handle the pressure of Yankee Stadium. Martinez played his relationship with Yankees fans for all it was worth.

“I don’t know if you realize this, but because of you guys in some ways, I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I can honestly say that,” Martinez said. “I have all the respect in the world for the way they enjoy being fans. Sometimes they might be giving you the middle finger, just like they will be cursing you and telling you what color underwear you’re wearing.”

Martinez also used the Zimmer brawl to his advantage. He said regrets the brawl and deflected blame by saying it wasn’t his fault, conveniently forgetting the fastball that hit Karim Garcia. That game also featured the snapshot of Martinez jawing with Jorge Posada while pointing his finger to his head. Martinez’s version was he was telling Posada to think, that he wasn’t throwing intentionally at the Yankees.

The Yankees’ version is different, saying he was warning Posada of what might happen next.

“It was an ugly scene,” Martinez said. “Zim charged me and I think he’s going to say something, but his reaction was totally the opposite, (he) was trying to punch my mouth and told me a couple of bad words about my mom. I just had to react and defend myself.

“It was something that we have to let go kind of, and forget about it, because it was a disgrace for baseball. Even though it wasn’t my fault, I was involved in it, and it’s one of the moments that I don’t like to see. I don’t like to see it because I’m not a violent man.”

Zimmer told reporters “Pedro is full of crap.”

MARTINEZ: Renewing acquaintances

MARTINEZ: Renewing acquaintances

To get the crowd fired up against Martinez, as if motivation was needed, it would have been interesting if Zimmer was on hand to throw out the first pitch. That’s my theatric side, but I know it wouldn’t happen.

Then, in an orchestrated gesture to avoid bad mouthing the Yankees, Martinez laid it all on the media, saying the New York press used and abused him. He spoke of how none of the media ever broke bread with him and got to know him a man, as if that were ever a possibility.

Scorned in the Bronx, Queens loved Martinez during his four-year, injury-plagued tenure with the Mets. Martinez was disappointed in not being offered the kind of contract he wanted with the Mets, but in the end walked away with $53 million. Martinez went 15-8 in 31 starts his first year with the Mets in 2005, but won only 17 games and made just 48 starts over the next three seasons.

Of course, beating the Yankees tonight also acts as a reminder to the Mets they made a mistake – in Martinez’s mind – for letting him go. The Yankees, the Mets, the press, Zimmer, the crowd, yes, Martinez will use them all to prepare himself psychologically and emotionally for tonight.

“I’m excited,” Martinez said. “I’m going to prepare, yeah, maybe, as another game, but deep down I know what it’s about. I know how real it is, and I don’t want to change it.”

106 thoughts on “TALKIN’ BASEBALL: Game #2; Martinez no fool.

  1. Doing well, JD, thanks. I’ll be even better if the Phillies go up 2-0 tonight.
    Hey, Annie!

  2. Yesterday, you two, I met a woman who said she was a die-hard Mets fan and the last three years have hurt her in ways she can’t even express.
    It was real. Her voice cracked and I saw the very pained look in her eyes and slouching of her body. That’s how bad it has gotten.

  3. FOURTH INNING: The complexion of the Series changes if Teixeira gets hot. He was MIA in the ALCS. …. It looks as if the Yankees are beginning to figure out Martinez.-JD

  4. 18 Durability?
    Dude, all Pedro wanted was one year.
    JD, you’re telling me you’d have signed Fernando Nieve, Livan Hernandez or Tim Redding over Pedro? Come on.
    Pedro sure would’ve come in handy after Oliver Perez and John Maine both went down early in the year, Redding was sucking like a vacuum cleaner on steroids and Hernandez was flaming out. And Pedro would’ve at least kept fans watching the team.

  5. Gil (19) Although he won’t do it, I’d love to spend some time with Tim McCarver and discuss the Mets – he’s seen it all happen.

  6. Gil (23): Hindsight is always 20/20. … He hadn’t made it through the last two years without being hurt. … He needed the WBC to audition. By that time the Mets had their rotation. Who knew it would implode? Martinez had good numbers with the Phillies, but it was a hot six weeks. You’re assuming he would’ve pitched at that pace over a full season. That’s quite an assumption. Sure, the Mets could’ve used him this year. But, I don’t blame their decision. I thought the same. It was time to move on.-JD

  7. 23 I would’ve signed Pedro after his WBC performance.

    22 Tim McCarver is one of the classiest people I’ve ever met. I met him when I was a teen at Mets Spring Training in St. Pete, Florida. I asked him for an autograph and he was as gracious as he could be in signing. I wrote him a letter of thanks and let him know my dad and I were taking a trip to Montreal to see the Mets. Tim encouraged me to get in touch with him in Montreal at the team’s hotel and he took me out to lunch to talk baseball and baseball broadcasting. That was such a kind gesture. He even remembered me when I met up with him years later in the press box of Qualcomm Stadium at the ’98 World Series. Just a great, great guy with a great heart.

  8. Gil (22) I’m not surprised to hear that Tim was so nice to you. I used to listen to him and Ralph on the radio – one day, Ralph told him not to be so messy in the box, and stop throwing papers on the floor – (in Montreal!). I wrote to Tim and asked for one of the papers on the floor.He sent me a complete scorecard which I still have taped to my office door. He’s the best – do you have a copy of his book? Love the name of it – “Oh,Baby, I Love It”

  9. 31 That’s a really cool Tim McCarver story, Annie. And yes, I read his book back in the day, the moment it was released. I love how he actually admitted that very early in his career he yelled out “come on, Henry!” when he first played against Henry Aaron — from his place inside the opposing team’s dugout!

  10. Gil (32) And, of course, he was a pretty good catcher over 4 decades he would tell you and he didn’t get the easy pitchers, either.

  11. 33 Know what’s weird, Annie?
    McCarver was Steve Carlton’s personal catcher with both St. Louis and Philly, but because growing up I pretty much only saw Carlton pitch against the Mets, I never thought he was that great.
    The Mets OWNED Carlton throughout his career, for whatever strange reason.

  12. Gil (37) He also caught Bob Gibson who would not allow him to come out to the mound to talk with him. Even the day Bob finished the game pitching with a broken leg.

  13. Did you catch the trailer just now for “Invictus”? Looks AWESOME! Wow.
    Clint Eastwood as director, Morgan Freeman as Mandela and Matt Damon all in the same film that tackles history and social consciousness? What more could you ask for?

  14. This is a really good game, I wonder how many people in those Celebrity Seats know what they are seeing – aren’t they just there to be seen themselves?

  15. I wonder what was behind that grin when Martinez left the mound. He pitched a great game. Two bad pitches. He gave the Phillies more than they could have expected.-JD

  16. John (46) So am I – Burnett has not been very reliable.
    Maybe this is a life-changing experience for him and he likes the spotlight…

  17. I see Martinez hung on into the 7th — just barely. His line could get a lot worse if these guys score.

  18. 43 1) “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”
    2) “The Enforcer”
    3) “Letters From Iwo Jima”

  19. 58 “Letters” was outstanding. So was “Million Dollar Baby” and “Gran Torino.”

  20. Anyone see the news today that tennis great Andre Agassi admitted he was strung out on crystal meth during his career?
    Playing grand slam tennis while high on meth…that had to be quite an experience.

  21. Gil (73) excerpt from his new book in the SI that arrived today – he’s not the only user in tennis –

  22. Consider: 8th inning, NYs with a 2-run lead, Mariano comes in. If he blows that lead, not only does it destroy the whole idea of Mariano’s post-season invincibility — basically the Yankees whole game plan — but chances are they go to Philly down 2-0. Instead he’s still untouched, Yanks still up by 2, still looks like they go to Philly tied. The entire complexion of the Series was riding on that half inning.

    ‘Course they still have to play the top of the 9th…

  23. 74 Well, there is that story of Doc Ellis’s LSD-aided no-hitter he pitched back in the early ’70s and most of the ’86 Mets spent the whole season alternately high on coke and meth and drunk.

  24. 77 Interestiing question: Was Agassi a better player while tweaking than a sober opponent?

  25. Gil (78): And McGwire, Bonds, Sosa spent a good part of their careers on steroids. Of course, let’s not forget Clemens and Rodriguez and Ramirez. Oh yes, there’s Palmeiro, too.-JD

  26. John (77) You know how many books I read – there are few secrets about anyone any more.

  27. 82 I can’t wait ’til next Wednesday when “V” premieres on ABC. I was deep into the original miniseries that aired on NBC in ’83 and ’84. This new version looks phenomenal.

  28. One more out ’til I fire up the DVR to watch tonight’s episode of “Flash Forward”…

  29. #82 They have better have Aaron Pierce back in “24” as they have had every year. I keep waiting for them to make him President.

    Let’s see: strong pitching performance by Burnett. Home runs by Texeira and Matsui. Those Yankee farm teams in Toronto, Anaheim and Tokyo really know how to develop players for the Yankees.

  30. (84) I thought I saw an ad for that. What did they do, remake the whole series? Or are they starting it up where they left off?

  31. Best game of the whole post season so far – Pedro and Burnett pitched extraordinarily well.

    Final Score: Yankees 3, Phillies 1.

    Next Game: Saturday night in Philadelphia –

    See you then.

  32. (91) “Reimagined” is still alien to my vocabulary. But I guess in this case that’s appropriate.

  33. 96 Well, that’s Hollywoodspeak for one of two things:
    1) “remake” and making changes from the original with the blessing of the original creators
    2) the original from back in the day really sucked and had cheesy F/X, so now with a bigger budget and modern F/X, we’re now gonna make a new and improved version the creators were too inept to have made in the first place

  34. POST GAME ANALYSIS: The Yankees got a big time performance from AJ Burnett, who outpitched Pedro Martinez. … Burnett never lost his groove. …. In the big picture, the Phillies needed to go home with a split. And, really, did anybody expect the Yankees lose the first two at home? …. The Yankees do have to be pleased considering Sabathia lost and they’ve gotten nothing so far from Rodriguez.-JD

  35. What’s really sickening about the Yankees success is the Mets can’t duplicate it.

    Nice to see that A Fraud is back to normal with an 0 for 8, 6 strikeout and a should-have-been-error leading to the lone Fillie run.

  36. “What’s really sickening about the Yankees success is the Mets can’t duplicate it.”
    Exactly right Dan. All this whining about the terrible Yankees playing by the rules and doing what the hapless Met front office is too pathetic to accomplish. Oh the horrible Yankees got free agents. O\How about the stupid horrible Mets got free agents that can’t win the whole thing. The Yankees make a profit on every first class free agent they sign. Lets see, the Yanks sign pitchers CC and AJ, the Mets sign pitchers Redding and Perez and Rodriguez. Lets see the Yankees sign hitter Tex the Mets sign mr glue Cora. Keep bitching about the Yankees for doing what they do well, while the Mets do the same thing but get a failing grade for it. The Yankees have better home grown products and probalby more of them than the Mets and better FA signs. Yeah, blast the yankees The Yanks know how to take over a city, the Mets know how to be the small market team in the big apple.

  37. I got home in the bottom of the 7th to see Pedro still pitching.

    He must be pleased to be pitching well in the WS.