For a neutral observer, it's great to see the Royals in the World Series. But it's really a shame that the American League Championship Series is over. Not just because the ball was so good -- though it was -- but because of Pedro Martinez.
Pedro was the breakout star of the 2013 postseason, and he topped himself in 2014. And now we have to do without Pedro on our television screens until 2015.
This is a significant loss. Pedro is as good as it gets in the broadcast booth, much as he was as good as it gets on the mound. As funny and honest as Charles Barkley, as insightful as Cris Collinsworth, as accomplished in his playing career as Shaquille O'Neal, Pedro is practically the perfect broadcaster.
I would like to be as good at one thing in my life as Pedro is at his second career. A career, by the way, which he practices in his second language.
He is, simply, must-watch. Personally, I can stand very little sports talk. I tend not to watch pre- or postgame shows. When Pedro comes on, though, not only do I not turn away. I turn it up.
He is Pedro, by the way. Standard style would dictate that after mentioning him for the first time, he should be called "Martinez." But he is Pedro. Everyone knew who Pedro was when he was pitching -- more on that in a bit -- and everyone knows who he is now.
We often expect players who gave great interviews to transition seamlessly into the broadcast booth, but it's just not that easy. Talking on television is hard. You have to compose and construct your thoughts, you have to be brief and to the point, you can't step on anybody's toes. And you have to do all of that while making sure to look at the right camera or the right person.
It is extremely difficult to make television look easy. But that's exactly what Pedro does. He is totally at ease without being lazy. He is authoritative without being preachy. He is funny without being hackneyed. He is opinionated without being obnoxious.
And perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise, because he was so ridiculously good at his first career. At the very least, we should probably assume that whatever Pedro tries next, he will be awfully good at that too. Sheesh, the guy is even really good at Twitter.
He was so good at his first career, in fact, that it seems these days we are already selling him a bit short. Much as context matters when we evaluate him as a broadcaster -- that is to say, he doesn't have decades of training, and again, he's not a native English speaker -- context matters when we talk about the man's pitching career.
In the past few years, the offensive context in baseball has changed radically. What was a hitters' world just 10 years ago is now dominated by pitchers. Clayton Kershaw puts up great numbers now, but Martinez put up similar numbers in a much, much tougher environment.
So as I appreciate Pedro the broadcaster, I'm also making sure to remember Pedro the pitcher. That's part of the reason Pedro was on my mind this week -- not just because he's so much fun in the broadcast booth.
As I write this, 15 years ago Pedro delivered one of the greatest performances in baseball history. On Oct. 11, 1999, he threw six no-hit innings of relief in Game 5 of the AL Division Series, sending the Red Sox to victory over the Indians.
This would be amazing if it happened today. It's almost unfathomable in the context in which it happened.
His six shutout, no-hit innings game in a 12-8 game. Which is to say, 20 runs were scored in the 12 half-innings Martinez didn't pitch. A total of 79 runs were scored in the five-game series, just a hair under eight per team, per game.
That Indians team scored 1009 runs, the highest total by any team since 1950. The American League as a whole averaged 5.18 runs per game in 1999. This was the best hitting team in the best hitting era in 60 years.
The '99 Red Sox, by the way, were still operating under the whole "curse" thing. The franchise had lost five straight postseason series, and 16 of 17 postseason games coming into that ALDS. So the pressure was even more enormous than in a "regular" Game 5.
And on top of it all, Pedro had a bad back. That's why he didn't start the game, because he was too injured. So he came out of the bullpen. And dominated.
He was spectacularly great, at the biggest moment, with style and with flair. Like he was born to do that.
Just like he does as a broadcaster.