08/16/2005: Re: Baseball, an interesting point was made yesterday
by Bill Chuck in his daily Billy-Ball newsletter:
BASEBALL CAN BE…I remember some mention of this on SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight while I was waiting for the Cards-Cubs game, which was ESPN's Sunday game of the week, but I didn't actually think about it for a while.
Pedro Martinez was five outs from the first no-hitter in New York Mets history. Four pitches later, he was the losing pitcher. Petey didn't allow a hit yesterday [i.e., Sunday afternoon --LRC] until Antonio Perez tripled with one out in the 8th over Gerald Williams head in center field and then Jayson Werth followed with a two-run homer, and the Los Angeles Dodgers had a 2-1 victory. Martinez (12-5) struck out five, walked one and retired 20 consecutive batters before Perez drove his 86th pitch off the left-center fence on a 1-1 count.
Yesterday, while performing some life maintenance duties (i.e., washing the dishes, if you really must know), I started thinking about Pedro and how life shafted him, when it dawned on me that Pedro's spectacular implosion may have been foreordained. I've not seen any news article or blog post about Pedro's near-brush with a no-hitter, so I'm not aware of what Pedro's pitch count was when his world came crashing down around him Sunday afternoon. However, I did remember this post by Brian Gunn in the late, great Redbird Nation Cardsblog, during the 2003 American League Championship Series, when Pedro (or more accurately, Grady Little, then Boston Red Sox manager) blew the Red Sox's opportunity to break "The Curse of Babe Ruth" a year earlier than they did:
Of course, we'll hear more about the Curse, and Aaron F. Boone, but we'll probably hear more about the bungled management of Grady Little. In the 7th Pedro gave up his second bomb to Giambi, then singles to Enrique Wilson and Karim Garcia before wriggling out of it. In the 8th he got rapped for a double by Jeter, then surrendered a solid single to Bernie Williams, and fans across the country prepared for another jingoistic commercial for Joe Millionaire 2, followed by shots of Alan Embree taking warm-up tosses on the mound. Pedro was already at 114 pitches, and he's not the same guy as his pitch count climbs. Consider: on the season Pedro had a .207/.257/.308 opposition AVG/OBP/SLG through pitch 105. After that he was at .363/.417/.424. The man gets tired in a hurry. And when Hideki Matsui can turn on your 0-2 fastball and rip it down the line, that little egg-timer in your brain should politely ding your pitcher out of the game, but still Little stuck with his man. The game was lost right there, in my opinion.The point being, Pedro just isn't the same pitcher after pitch 105 than he is before that. And, while I have no evidence about this (if anyone out there finds any, please let me know), I've got the feeling that Willie Randolph let sentiment overrule what shold have been his better judgement, and let Pedro stay in the game in the hopes he'd achieve the no-no, even though his pitch count got over the magic number at which point a disaster like this was waiting to happen. And did.
Ah, but hindsight is 20/20, eh?
Len on 08.16.05 @ 10:53 AM CST