Classic card of the week

Pedro Martinez, 1998 Fleer Ultra

Pregame stretches served as a time of contemplation for Pedro Martinez. During this particular instance, Martinez is undoubtedly thinking back to the days when he would sit under a mango tree without 50 cents for the bus. But now look at me, stretching for the Boston Red Sox. With my own purple stretch-a-ma-thingie! Ya’ know what? I’m gonna find myself a little person to hang around with. That’s the logical next step. And why the hell is Zimmer looking at me like that? What’s his problem?

Of course, I kid with Pedro Martinez because I hate him. Not as a person, but as an athlete. But also as a person. That was a joke. Sort of. But by hate I mean “respectfully loathe,” which is something he should be proud of, if he gave a flying Zimmer what a random Yankee fan blogger thought about him. Please though, take a look at Pedro Martinez. What we’re witnessing here is the smug confidence of a man who -- regardless of whether or not he adequately stretches beforehand -- is going to absolutely positively dominate and embarrass whatever lineup he happens to be facing that day.

This was Pedro Martinez before a time when Jimmy Fallon would bring Red Sox popularity to an unprecedented level, so it may be easy to forget just how good this man was at baseball. (Pedro Martinez, not Jimmy Fallon.) Please look at the back of this card. Take particular note of his 1997 stats, which was only the beginning of an otherworldly seven-year span of utter dominance:

How do you like the 1.90 ERA? (Not listed is the 0.93 WHIP, thank you very much.) Over 300 strikeouts. Thirteen complete games…13! If these numbers were adjusted to correspond to the Steroid Era that he pitched in the smack-dab middle of, Pedro Martinez, in 1997, had a –7.65 ERA, 1,300 strikeouts, a record of 96-0 with 103 complete games (adjusted for the games that went past nine innings), and a No. 1 smooth jazz album, just for the heck of it. They really should have stopped handing out the Cy Young Award after 1997. Or at least renamed it. For his career stats, please look here.

It’s hard to find the best part. I personally enjoy the 0.737 WHIP of 2000. But there’s also the consistent 250+ K’s after moving to the American League and pitching in the same division as the dynastic Yankees. Whatever. Take your pick. Maybe you’re Omar Minaya and you prefer the 28 innings pitched of 2007.

So yeah. Pedro Martinez. Hate him. But man do I love baseball. And holy crap is was he good at it.

Did you know?
The Mets have recently acquired a purple stretch-a-ma-thingie.