Wednesday’s Phillies’ Game 6 starter, Pedro Martinez has spent the post-season alternately lecturing and entertaining the national media on the sport’s biggest stage. Following are some examples of the wit and wisdom of the deep-thinking Martinez.
Pedro was asked a question in Spanish. As he was about to answer in Spanish the moderator asked him if he could translate his answer into English after.
Pedro: “Why? This is America. English-speaking America? Is anybody going to give me an extra ring for translating for you guys?”
Pedro was asked prior to his postponed Division Series start in Denver if he could recall the first time he saw snow.
Pedro: “I think I was going across the mountains of Reno, Nevada on a bus. It was a 12-hour bus ride. I came straight from the Dominican and I was dropped right in the middle of Great Falls, Montana. If you're going to talk about drastic changes and stuff, when I got to Florida, I kind of understand English. But when I got to Montana and the accent I said maybe I don't know that much. But when I saw snow, I actually stopped to grab a little bit and put it in my mouth to see if it felt like ice. Now I have a house in New York where I see snow every winter.
Pedro was asked his feelings about returning to the Bronx to pitch in Yankee Stadium, where he has had some big career moments.
Pedro: “I don't know if you realize this, but because of you guys I might be at times the most influential player that ever stepped in Yankee Stadium. I have been a big fan of baseball for a long time, since I was a kid. My first ball I ever got from a Big League player -- I actually got to purchase in Dodger Stadium in a silent auction -- was Reggie Jackson. I was actually a big fan of the Yankees, too.
“For some reason with all the hype and different maybe because I played for the Red Sox is probably why you guys made it such a big deal every time I came in, but I have a good bond with the people. After playing in New York, I realize something: New York fans are very passionate and very aggressive. But after you take your uniform off and you deal with the people, they're real human beings. It's all just being fans.
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. All those things you can hear when you're a fan. But at the end of the day, they're just great fans that want to see the team win.
Pedro lectured the media on the way they have portrayed him, especially in the New York papers.
PEDRO: “I think in every aspect, the way you guys have used me and abused me just because I wore actually a red uniform just like this one while playing for Boston. I remember quotes in the paper, ‘Here comes the man that New York loves to hate.’
“Man? None of you have probably ever eaten steak with me or rice and beans with me to understand what the man is about. You might say the player, the competitor, but the man? You guys have abused my name. You guys have said so many things, have written so many things. There was one time I remember when I was a free agent, there was talk that I might meet with Steinbrenner. One of your colleagues had me in the papers with horns and a tail, red horns and a tail. That's a sign of the devil. I'm a Christian man. I don't like those things. I take those things very serious.
“Those are the kind of things that the fans actually get used to seeing, and actually sometimes influence those people to believe that you are a bad person, that you are like an ogre. I see Mariano, and that's probably the player I admire the most because of how he goes about his business, how he does it, and he remains a humble Christian man admired by everyone in baseball. The way people perceive me in New York, it's totally different than the way I am; I just compete. And yes, I will do whatever it takes to beat you. But I'm a human being after I take my clothes off.”
Pedro reflected on his infamous takedown of Yankee coach Don Zimmer.
PEDRO: “I'm sorry I'm going to recall this because it was an ugly scene -- this is probably the first time I'm ever going to talk about it publicly. But when Zim came over to me, I thought he was going to just give me advice or something, just ‘Go, Pedro, you need to slow down or something,’ or try to make it look a little bit different.
“But at that time, I'm going to be honest right now, my shoulder was barking. I was pitching on three days rest, I think. It was two men on. I loaded the bases with a hit by pitch that wasn't a hit by pitch. The ball hit the bat on Karim Garcia, and Zim charged me, and I think he's going to say something, but his reaction was totally the opposite, 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. But the tweak that it took made me look like a monster that just came in to play Yankee Stadium. And you know what I did, go out there, compete, and nothing else. I remember getting back to my dugout and seeing middle fingers. My mom, poor mom. I'm glad she's blessed by God because all those curses were, I mean, unbelievable.
“I remember going back, and I blew up the lead, yes, I blew up the lead, but I don't regret it. It was a great moment. It was a great game. I competed. I did everything I had to do to actually win a ballgame. Fell short. So what? I had the great honor to pitch one of the biggest games that a player has ever played in the whole stadium. And that's a good memory for me to have. But I didn't like the tweaking that you guys gave to the whole scenario, because I don't feel like it was my fault.”
Pedro talked about the unfortunate “maybe the Yankees are my daddy” quote that led to the fans at the stadium chanting, “Who’s your daddy?” every time he pitches.
Pedro: “You know any time I hear that, ‘Who's your daddy?’ it reminds me that God is my daddy. It gives me strength. It keeps me strong and healthy, and I believe I can do anything. And when you have 60,000 people chanting your name, waiting for you to throw the ball, you have to consider yourself someone special, someone that really has a purpose out there. Maybe when I said that quote out of frustration, I had the purpose of maybe hearing it now, hearing it the following few years that I played. Every time I hear it, it reminds me not to make the same mistake. And at the same time it reminds me that God is my real daddy, and he's the one that keeps me strong to compete, just like he does to Mariano. I've seen Mariano when I know his shoulder is barking, and he still succeeds. Men of faith. It's only God who can probably do that for him.
Pedro talked about it being a new Yankee Stadium but the same old fans.
Pedro: “I remember one guy sitting right in front of the front row with his daughter, sitting with his daughter, and his daughter in one arm, and a cup of beer in the other hand and saying all kinds of nasty stuff. I just told him, ‘Your daughter is right beside you. It's a little girl. It's a shame you're saying all these things.’ I had to stop and tell him because I'm a father myself, and God, how can you be so dumb to do those kind of things in front of your child? What kind of example are you setting?
“But the fans, I enjoy. I played for the Mets. I know they really want to root for me. It's just that I don't play for the Yankees. That's all. I've always been a good competitor, and they love that. They love the fact that I compete. I'm a New Yorker, as well. If I was on the Yankees, I'd probably be like a king over here.”