Category Archives: Los Angeles Dodgers

Aspirations for greatness, via Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez, in the midst of doing what he did.

Pedro Martinez, in the midst of doing what he did.

If I glance to my left from my desk at work, I can see various things taped up: concert setlists, band photos, album covers, little trinkets to keep me motivated and feeling like I’m at home. One of them is a Pedro Martinez baseball card, circa 2003. He’s pumping his fist, probably after another strikeout.

Thanks to a quick decline in baseball card quality the past couple of seasons, the collecting bug that I rekindled around 2010 has flamed out again, leading me back to the occasional, nostalgic purchase. I still seek out individual Red Sox each year, and I pick up stray cards of players I like on the cheap. In terms of space and money spent, it’s a much more affordable existence.

This weekend, I was tooling around again for the first time in a few months, and sort of instinctively started looking for Pedro cards. Soon enough, I found a 10-card lot of ones I mostly didn’t have, priced around $3 total, and took the plunge. The entire exercise probably took around 10 minutes.

Tomorrow afternoon, there’s a very good chance that Pedro is going to be announced as a 2015 Hall of Fame inductee, along with Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio and maybe a couple of others (John Smoltz? Mike Piazza?). It’s a feather in the cap of an incredible career, and it feels nice to know that he’s being acknowledged for his work. But that’s not what I was thinking about when I went searching for those cards, because I don’t think much about the Hall of Fame anymore. Continue reading

Remembering Bob Welch

Bob Welch won games, and that's as much as I could say for a long time.

Bob Welch won games, and that’s as much as I could say for a long time.

What did I know as a kid? So close to “nothing” that I’m shocked I even made it to middle school.

I knew I wanted people to like me, but understood so little about how other people thought or moved as a group that I could never keep up. Solitude was much easier to handle. I could sit in my room and keep track of the various nonsensical things I liked in my notebooks and watch sports and follow players and try to get an understanding on how the game worked, who was good and who wasn’t.

From this perspective, it was a lot easier to get a grasp on things. I could watch baseball, for example, and understand how it worked, what was supposed to happen and what was not supposed to happen. I knew that in a lineup, the fastest players hit first, the best hitters hit third and the biggest power threats hit fourth. I knew that power pitchers were big, burly guys and that control pitchers were older, a little funnier looking maybe, but could be counted on for seven or eight innings every night. And closers, even within the facial-hair-friendly world of baseball circa 1989-93, all had mustaches. Continue reading

The Red Sox have gone LA

Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford will forever be linked in New England.

Well that was unexpected.

On Friday afternoon, I hopped on a bus from my seaside studio apartment in New Bedford for Boston, typically a 90-minute journey thanks to rush-hour traffic. As usual, I had my headphones (and Sandinista! by The Clash) and a book (For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway), and just as the bus was pulling out of the station I pulled out my phone to see what the internet was up to.

And my side of the internet was quite engaged in the possibility of a baseball trade that seemed to be pulled from a nutjob radio caller’s brain: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett and, for reasons that will always be funny, Nick Punto were on their way to Los Angeles for first baseman James Loney and four minor leaguers.

Adrian Gonzalez, their All-Star first baseman, is in the first season of a seven-year, $154 million contract. Carl Crawford signed a seven-year, $142 million contract before 2011. Josh Beckett has two years remaining on his four-year, $68 million extension signed during the 2010 season. And Nick Punto has another year left. Good ol’ Nick Punto. Continue reading

A legacy of amazing

It’s been a solid week of love letters, essays and expositions on Pedro Martinez, that Dominican Dandy with three masterful pitches and a flair for the dramatic.

His numbers can be perused, of course, on websites and the backs of baseball cards. But I wanted another way to look at them while paying homage to his outstanding career.

So, please enjoy my graphic interpretation of Pedro Martinez, from Los Angeles to Philadelphia and all the stops, wins and records between.

Click through for the full-size. And long live the memory of Pedro Martinez, from bean balls to strikeouts, from losses to wins. And thank you all, dear readers, for tuning in for Pedro Week.

An unknown Dodger

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda didn't think Pedro could handle pitching out of the rotation.

1993 was easily my heaviest year of baseball fandom to that point. I was 11 years old, fully in love with the Boston Red Sox, and beginning to exhaustively study the history of the game. I worked to memorize World Series winners and losers, MVPs, Cy Young winners, batting champs and Rookies of the Year. I spent my time in the library making photo copies of baseball players from books with dimes I’d saved up — Dave Winfield, Pete Rose, Tom Seaver, Carl Yastrzemski, Brooks Robinson, and on down the line.

And, of course, there were baseball cards. I bought packs of Fleer, Fleer Ultra and Upper Deck that year, but I concentrated mainly on Topps. By then, I’d realized that Topps was the only company that would print the entire career of a player on the card backs, and being the student of the game I was, it was a big draw.

Pedro Martinez’s first card came to me that summer. I didn’t think much of him and eventually filed him away with the rest of the Dodgers, but not before studying him a bit, that he played a couple of seasons in Albuquerque (that was funny to me for some reason — practically all the Dodgers rolled through there), that he’d made his debut in 1992, and that he pitched eight innings over two games, including one start. Continue reading