During his Hall of Fame career as a pitcher, the legendary Pedro Martinez almost represented an era in and of himself. He set plenty of records, but that wasn’t really what Pedro was about.
At the height of his career, every Pedro Martinez start was an event in and of itself, with fans at Fenway Park in Boston waving Dominican Republic flags to go with their Red Sox gear, and chants in Spanish glorifying Martinez were almost as abundant as those ever-present “Let’s Go Sox!” chants.
Pedro Martinez was a showman, and he never shied from controversy, so despite his obvious disdain for the media, it was obviously only a matter of time before he would end up in front of a camera.
What was he up to when he retired?
It took some time for that destiny to manifest completely, though. Despite his incredible success, the title that had eluded the Red Sox for so long still proved to be unattainable. Martinez was like an incredible lone star surrounded by lesser hurlers, and Boston’s futility continued.
It was only when the Red Sox acquired Curt Schilling that they finally got over the hump and won their first title since 1918, ending the so-called “Curse of the Bambino.” Martinez’s memorable quote about what he would have done had he faced Babe Ruth back then was simple: “I’d have drilled him in the ass.”
When his drilling days were done–Pedro did have a bit of a reputation as a head hunter–Martinez began his post-playing roles. His role as a Red Sox consultant didn’t begin for several years; Martinez did finish his career with the Mets, after all, and there was lingering bad blood between him and the organization.
MLB Network analyst
So Pedro went to work for the MLB Network as an analyst. That toothless role had swallowed up many former players, but not Martinez. He knew he had the cachet from his playing days to say whatever he wanted, more or less, and that tendency from his playing career quickly made him stand out.
It took Pedro a while to warm to the role, however. Initially, he seemed somewhat bitter about the way he’s playing career had ended and the way injuries reduced him to a shadow of his former self.
Once he accepted that inevitable ending, though, Martinez began to shine as an analyst even more. He became a go-to source for baseball writers who wanted sharp, informed opinions, just as he had as a player, but this time without the rancor that is part of the relationship between star players and the media.
Red Sox consultant
His role with the Red Sox began several years later, and Pedro wasn’t shy as a consultant, either. He didn’t hesitate to critique prospects who’d been coddled by the organization, to the point where several resented him until they realized that Martinez was usually right.
His mantras about pitching inside remain timeless, as does his knowledge about velocity, pitch selection, movement, and just about anything else to do with throwing off the mound. Pedro’s legacy was his scintillating greatness, after all, and who better to communicate about that in his post-career role as an analyst and Red Sox consultant?
Which is how Martinez got to where he is now, playing a unique role as talking head, club representative, and occasional pitching instructor that embodies one of MLB’s primary conflicts of interest. He’s allowed to opine about all things MLB, despite the fact that he’s specifically employed by a single club.
A Unique Career
Martinez started his career in obscurity. He was a highly touted prospect for the LA Dodgers, but the belief of Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda, among others, that Martinez was too skinny to hold up as a full-time starter kept him from advancing.
The Dodgers peddled him to Montreal, and that was when things started to happen for Pedro. Freed of the restrictions that came with being a prominent LA prospect, Martinez simply went out and pitched, and suddenly the fact that he was nearly as thin as the foul pole didn’t seem to matter much anymore.
Once Martinez began his evolution into one of the best starters in the game, it became obvious that the small-market Expos wouldn’t be able to afford him once his arbitration years were done, and yet another round of “let’s make a deal” began.
It was Boston that swooped in with an attractive package of prospects, and the deal was done. Martinez’s success was nearly instantaneous, to the point where it almost seemed like his arrival in Boston was destiny.