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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Pedro Martinez Defends Grady Little’s Decision to Leave Him in Game 7

There are few figures in Boston sports history who have worse status than former Red Sox manager Grady Little. If the Sox hadn’t won two World Series in the next four years, Little may have gone down in the same category as Bill Buckner and the Curse of the Bambino in New England, but luckily the Red Sox bailed him out.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Little’s Beantown offense, it dates back to Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees. The Red Sox were up 5-2 and ace Pedro Martinez got Nick Johnson to pop up to open the bottom of the 8th. The Red Sox were five outs from the World Series when Pedro gave up a double to Derek Jeter and an RBI single to Bernie Williams making it 5-3. Little took a mound visit and decided to stick with Pedro who gave up a ground rule double to Hideki Matsui. Jorge Posada then tied up the game with a two-run double before Little finally relieved Pedro for Alan Embree. The game remained tied until the 11th when Aaron Boone hit a walkoff home run sending the Yanks to the World Series.

Grady Little was always deemed a goat for leaving Pedro in the 8th too long when, as critics say, it was evident he was gassed and losing his stuff. I’ve always defended Little’s decision (and Charlie Manuel’s years later) and felt he got an awful deal from the fans and media who fail to point out that the Red Sox didn’t score after the 8th and are strictly results-oriented. The fans and media were dealing with nearly 90 years of disappointment and needed a scapegoat, so Little filled the role. Luckily Pedro Martinez backs his manager.

In an interview set to air on MLB Network Wednesday March 30th, Pedro says Little made the right move sticking with him. “I say he did what he felt was right for him to do. I would say that I still had stamina and I had good enough stuff to get them out. I would stick to that and I believe that. What you have to do is give those guys on the Yankees side credit for making it happen. I made some great pitches. I don’t think Grady has anything to be blamed for. As a matter of fact, Grady should be in the big leagues with a team, managing a team right now regardless of what happened that day.”

Like I said, I agree. Here’s my biggest point: from ’98-’03, Pedro was godly with the Red Sox. He had gone seven and a third innings allowing just two runs to the Yankees that game. I would always stick with my Hall of Fame pitcher in that situation rather than pull him for a reliever. Pedro is a Cy Young Award winner who was far and away the best pitcher of his era. I’d much rather lose a game with him on the hill and be blamed for it than give the ball to Alan Embree. Grady gets a raw deal for the outcome of the game, but Pedro and I have his back.



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