Thursday, May 14, 2009

Classic card of the week


Ramon Martinez, 1991 Fleer Ultra Team of 1991

This card features one member of the Fleer Ultra Team of 1991, a squad of players that requires no introduction, as evidenced by their respective ultraness. Anchoring the staff of the Fleer Ultra Team of 1991 is Ramon Martinez, who is highlighted here doing three of the things he is best known for: 1) pitching violently, 2) hitting awkwardly / maybe bunting from one knee, and 3) showing off his ‘fro-hawk-mullet inside of an imaginary home plate. This was the desired trinity of baseball skills circa 1991, and was required for membership on the Fleer Ultra Team of 1991. Ramon Martinez was, however, considered a five-tool player because the ‘fro-hawk-mullet counted as two tools. Another one of his tools was carpentry.

Now, you are probably asking yourself: Did Ramon Martinez, a baseball pitcher, have trouble adjusting to Dodger Stadium, a baseball stadium? Excellent inquiry. Let’s turn this card over and find out:



Martinez has no trouble adjusting to Dodger Stadium when he was first called up in 1988.

I give that sentence a D-minus.

The right-handed flamethrower pitched at Chavez Ravine in 1984 as a member of the Dominican Republic baseball team.

There it is. Ramon Martinez had no difficulty adjusting to Dodger Stadium because he had pitched at Dodger Stadium once four years prior. The aspects of Dodger Stadium that require adjustment remain unknown. Unless, of course, they are referring to the fact that the pitcher’s mound there is 12’ high and made of jello.

Many people -– such as Dodgers fans –- tend to forget that Ramon was ridiculously awesome for one year (20-6, 2.92 ERA, 223 Ks in 1990) and pretty darn good thereafter. The reason they tend to forget or ignore this is that the Dodgers’ organization opted for Ramon over his brother, wait for it……………………..Pedro. Says Wikipedia:

While he was starting for the Dodgers, Ramón repeatedly asserted that his brother Pedro Martinez was an even better pitcher than he was. Nevertheless, Dodgers management thought Pedro was too small to be successful and traded him away. Pedro went on to become one of the greatest pitchers of his generation with the Expos and Red Sox.

Ramon Martinez: For what it’s worth Mr. Lasorda, my brother Pedro is a very excellent pitcher. You and this organization should consider signing him long term.

Tommy Lasorda: Hey, no offense young fella, but your bother is 90 lbs soaking wet! And he can’t see over the steering wheel. Do you know what a steering wheel is? You got cars over there in the Dominicas? Listen -- I’ve been around baseball for 113 years so I know what I’m talking about! One time in 1937, Fats Gazinsky struck me out looking with the bases loaded…he weighed 450 lbs! That’s baseball right there! I mean hey kid -- this is America! Land of pizza pies and thing-a-ma-doos! Now get out there and pitch so I can go home and take a nap!

Ramon Martinez: My brother won 12 Cy Youngs while you were talking, Mr. Lasorda.

Did you know?
The Fleer Ultra Team of 1991 lost to the MTV Rock n’ Jock softball team of that same year after Dan Cortese hit a 20-point home run.

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