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The time Don Zimmer tried to fight Pedro Martinez (Video)

Don Zimmer Pedro Martinez

Baseball lifer Don Zimmer died on Wednesday at the age of 83, leaving behind many memories and stories of his ties to the game he loved.

Maybe it’s fitting, or perhaps it’s unfortunate, but when I think of Don Zimmer, I think of the old man who was a constant presence in the Yankees and Rays dugouts, and specifically about the time he got into a fight with Pedro Martinez during Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS and was tossed aside like a parking ticket:

Just a 72-year-old man getting into a scrap between two of the fiercest rivals in baseball history. Did that guy love the game and love his team or what?

Going back to a 2003 article about the incident, Zimmer was taken away to a hospital on a stretcher in an ambulance following the incident to be examined. He only had a cut on the bridge of his nose.

Pedro said he only pushed Zimmer down because the former manager came at him. He said at the time that he would never come hit Zimmer.

Speaking to the media six years after the incident, Pedro said he thought Zimmer was coming over to calm the situation but did the exact opposite.

“But his reaction was totally the opposite. (Zimmer) was trying to punch my mouth and told me a couple of bad words about my mom. I just had to react and defend myself,” Pedro said via the NY Daily News.

Zimmer also apologized for the incident.

“I said it myself the next day in a press conference,” Zimmer told the Daily News by phone from St. Petersburg in 2009. “I told the whole world I was wrong and that I was embarrassed by what I’d done and I apologized for it. I was definitely wrong and Pedro didn’t do nothing. I told the whole world that, even though the Yankees didn’t want me to hold a press conference because they were afraid I might say something to stir things up more.”

Zimmer was so fiery, the Yankees were worried he would stir it up again.

Zimmer won the 1955 World Series as a player with the Brooklyn Dodgers and later was on the historically embarrassing ’62 Mets. He was a part of 13 different franchises during his career in baseball, which spanned six decades.

MLB.com’s Marty Noble has a great writeup on Zimmer if you’re so inclined. Below, we’ve posted a video of Rays broadcaster Todd Kalas getting choked talking about Zimmer’s death. You can see how much Zimmer impacted the game:

Pedro Martinez gives Derek Jeter ultimate compliment

Pedro Martinez Red SoxPedro Martinez paid Derek Jeter the ultimate compliment on Tuesday, saying the New York Yankees shortstop was the one player he wanted to avoid during the postseason.

Pedro is doing some work for TBS as a postseason analyst and was asked during the network’s pregame show prior to the Pittsburgh Pirates-Cincinnati Reds playoff game whether he pitched around any hitters in the postseason. Mark DeRosa asked Pedro the question, and Martinez gave his answer. The three-time Cy Young Award winner specifically mentioned Jeter as the guy he tried avoiding.

“Yeah, plenty of them,” said Martinez. “Depending on the situation. Depending on the situation. The one I did not want to see forever in the postseason was actually (Derek) Jeter. Jeter was just uncomfortable to pitch to, especially in the postseason. It seems like he won’t swing and miss at a pitch. And then you make a great pitch, a quality pitch, and he fouls it off.”

Pedro’s answer probably isn’t too surprising. Jeter has long been lauded for being a clutch performer who delivers in the playoffs. The Yankees shortstop has batted .308/.374/.465 in 158 career playoff games, and has clubbed 32 doubles, five triples, and 20 home runs. Keep in mind that you’re usually facing 1-4 starters from the best teams during the postseason.

Pedro pitched in the World Series twice in his career. He helped the Boston Red Sox beat the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004, but he went 0-2 as a starter for the Philadelphia Phillies against the New York Yankees in 2009. Hideki Matsui was MVP of that series.

If you look at Jeter’s career postseason stats against Pedro, the pitcher’s response makes sense.

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Pedro Martinez: 90% of the batters I hit were intentional

Pedro-Martinez-Red-SoxPitchers like Pedro Martinez don’t miss very often. The former Boston Red Sox ace had as much control as any hurler who has every played the game. That can only mean two things when it comes to hitting a batter with a pitch: either it was a rare miss, or it was intentional.

On Monday, Pedro talked about how pitching inside allowed him to have so much success throughout his remarkable career. He hit batters quite frequently, but Martinez said it was almost always on purpose.

“Probably 90 percent of them,” Martinez said according to the Boston Globe. “But it was always retaliation for my teammates.”

The first part is probably true. The second part? I doubt it. As USA Today pointed out, Martinez finished with the second-lowest walk rate in the American League after his incredible CY Young season in 2000. Despite that and his astonishing 1.74 ERA, Pedro still finished with the second-most hit batsmen in the league.

Martinez, who is now working as a special assistant to the general manager in Boston, would not reveal the names of any batters he hit intentionally despite admitting that he did it so often. When asked if he hit former New York Yankees outfielder Karim Garcia on purpose during the 2003 ALCS, Pedro gave the following response.

“Not on purpose,” he said. “It didn’t even hit him, it hit the bat. Lucky bastard.”

Love him or hate him, Pedro Martinez is one of the greatest pitchers of all time. The fact that he was able to dominate the game during the height of the steroid era sets him apart from all the rest. Did he piss people off by throwing inside and plunking guys on purpose? Certainly, but any pitcher would do the same if they could be that effective.

Red Sox hire Pedro Martinez as a special assistant to the GM

Pedro-Martinez-Red-SoxThe Boston Red Sox officially announced on Thursday that they have signed Pedro Martinez. No, not like that.

While Boston could certainly use some more starting pitching, Pedro is retired from baseball. This time around, Martinez will be working at Fenway Park as a special assistant to GM Ben Cherington.

“I am thrilled to be returning to this organization and to the city I love,” Martinez said Thursday, via Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe. “Ben Cherington’s meetings this week have been outstanding. It is an honor to be back with the Red Sox and help in any way I can. I am grateful to our leaders; I believe in them, and I thank them for allowing me to return to the field and help us win again. My heart will always live in Boston.”

Martinez was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball with the Red Sox from 1998-2004. He compiled a 117-37 record and an impressive 2.52 ERA during his seven-year career in Boston. Cherington said the team is happy to have him on staff as a talent evaluator and mentor to young players.

“We are very excited to have Pedro onboard with us and back in the Red Sox organization,” the GM said. “He was one of the game’s most dominant pitchers and without a doubt a beloved figure in Red Sox history. Similar to former teammate Jason Varitek, who joined the baseball operations staff in September, Pedro will be involved in several areas, including the evaluation, mentorship, and instruction of young players in spring training and throughout the season.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner can certainly provide an extra pair of eyes for the Red Sox as they look to bounce back from two incredibly disappointing seasons. However, given what we recently learned about Boston’s brass in Terry Francona’s new book, you have to wonder if the Pedro hiring is a PR move as much as a baseball move. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that the folks on Yawkey Way care very much about public perception.

Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez appeared drunk during their Red Sox toast (Video)

Friday was a day of celebration at Fenway Park, and Kevin Millar and Pedro Martinez took that message to heart. The former Boston World Series winners led a toast prior to the Red Sox-Yankees game on Friday, and they both seemed rather sloshed. I’m not sure how to describe the scene other than Millar reminded me of Will Ferrell jumping on stage to crash the Snoop Dogg show during “Old School.” I’m surprised Millar didn’t lead the crowd streaking down Yawkey Way and into the quad.

Below is another video, and this one culminates with Millar saying “I think we’re done … this is awkward now.”

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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.

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Josh Beckett the Latest of Many Pitchers to Hurt Themselves While Swinging

In MLB, there is one main difference between the American League and the National League. In the AL, designated hitters are allowed but in the NL they’re not. That means pitchers don’t have to bat in the AL so their only job is to pitch. In the NL, more is asked of the pitchers because they have to bat too. Does the AL have it right? Should pitchers only be concerned about throwing the ball and not hitting it?

This idea has been debated for years and has been sparked by the injury to Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett who was placed on the DL because of a back injury. Beckett of course hurt his back while swinging in preparation for interleague play where he’d be forced to hit. Now if this isn’t downright pathetic, I’m not quite sure what is. When you play baseball at a professional level, you should have a certain level of athleticism. Unfortunately Beckett isn’t the only pitcher who’s been hurt swinging a bat (or trying to) over the last few years. Let’s take a look at some of the pitchers who need to stay on the mound and out of the batter’s box:

American League

1. Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox – Beckett injured himself before the start of May 10th’s game against the Toronto Blue Jays by taking practice swings. Let’s examine this a little more closely shall we? Beckett was swinging the bat before a game against who? The Blue Jays? Ah, another American League team that he doesn’t have to hit against anyways. This makes my head hurt. The Red Sox said this was because the pitchers are getting ready for interleague play. The Red Sox’s first interleague game is on Sunday at Philadelphia. So, Beckett was practice swinging for a game that was 13 days away at that point? And now he’s on the DL. That is just plain dumb.

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