Thursday, January 8, 2015

PEDRO MARTINEZ AND 'THE INTERVIEW'


It's been said that journalist hasn't really covered sports until he covers sports in Boston. With
the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics, it's a mecca of athletic achievement, drama, and a
passion for sports that borders on insanity. The backdrop is a world class city and the stage is
open for those who dare to be great and eager to carve out their legacy in the Commonwealth.

Few players have ever performed on the big stage in Boston like Pedro Martinez. He was
dominant and had a flair for the dramatic. It was appointment viewing every time Pedro pitched
and must-see television every time he talked. Charismatic, intelligent, and fearless on the mound,
Pedro was never afraid to speak his mind when a microphone was placed in his face.

Everybody loved Pedro and he owned the city after helping the Red Sox to a pair of World
Series titles, which in that town makes Pedro a legend forever. (And when talking about him
it was never Martinez,  simply Pedro).


When I saw that Pedro made the Hall of Fame, I had to chuckle. It wasn't because he simply
made juiced up hitters look silly during the Steroid Era, but it brought back memories of
an interview I did with him after one of his dominant performances in 1998, which was a long,
long, time ago in this now social media-driven world of sports, news, and entertainment.

I was working for WABU, the Red Sox flagship station at the time. I had played in the Red
Sox organization as a minor-league catcher, so to be in Boston and have the opportunity to
cover the team on a daily basis was an adrenaline rush that you just can't buy or manufacture.


However, I was never a "homer" and didn't wave the Red Sox pom-poms. If there was a tough
question that needed to be asked, I felt compelled to ask because in a town like Boston, they
expect those kind of questions to be asked.

During my interview with Pedro after a dominant 12-strikeout performance against Toronto,
I asked all the necessary lead-up questions about his outing, the team, and an upcoming
important road trip. But this game was the first one after he had ripped the fans after booing
him for a subpar performance. After spending most of his career in fan-friendly Montreal,
I'm sure he was shocked, not to mention hurt, when boos reigned down on him for one
bad outing.


(Remember, this is Boston, fans and the media went overboard and criticized Bill Belichick
and Tom Brady after the loss to Kansas City in September. It was embarrassing.)

Nobody in the media had yet to ask Pedro about the boos because it was his first start after
that game. I asked and I got a classic Pedro response, eye roll included. I wasn't embarrassed,
I had to ask the question and at the least, his retort made for good television.

Now, that he's going into the baseball Hall of Fame, I might save it for a little while longer.

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