Everyone knows that the Boston Red Sox are missing an ace. But, they also need an ace with some chutzpah. Lisa Carney explains what made Pedro Martinez so special.
The week of July 26, hosted two important events in the annals of Red Sox lore. One, a tribute to the past and the other, a signal to the future.
On Sunday, July 26, our beloved Pedro was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame and subsequently, number 45 was retired high above, on the Fenway facade already dotted with heroes and memories. After all, who sees 27 and doesn’t immediately want to hop up and start waving on imaginary home runs? Who sees 14 and doesn’t grin while recollecting the line drive machine who invented the Fenway laser show? And 8? Well for a lot of us still walking the Nation, he was our entire childhood.
It has been two seasons since Red Sox fans have felt the rush of a pennant race but on July 28th Fenway was completely awash in a frenzied buzz. Those who traveled from the western part of the state knew they needed to plan ahead as evidenced by the 3 P.M. crowd at the Charlton rest stop. Must have been the same priority for everyone coming from other directions too because when the pregame festivities began, Fenway seats were filled and the joint was rockin’. Once again, Pedro lit up the night and made it worth every penny you paid to be there.
Okay. So there’s our nod to the past. Here we go to the future.
When the non-waiver trade deadline passed on Friday, it turned out there would be no need to look in a dwindling pile for new uniform numbers to hand out to the next generation of Red Sox heroes and memories. Ryan Cook? Yeah I’ll hold off requesting vacation time for his next appearance. The last guy worth doing that for was… well… you know.
We’re cool with the lack of non-deadline moves because rational Sox fans knew long ago that this season went the way of the others undeserving of skyward banners, but instead scribbled in the infield dirt so that time and wind can erase the agony from our brains. 2014, 2012, 2011, 2001, 1997, 1994… and yes, there’s more, but that’s enough for now.
However, some held out hope that some kind of miracle deal would happen that would bring us a young cost-controlled arm with the mindset to lead a bunch of number 3-5 rotation guys to the promised land.
The mindset is clearly the missing ingredient in this year’s rotation. Technological times have changed but you still can’t just tweet yourself a Cy Young. And maybe you could say Clay Buchholz was making moves towards ace status, but aces are horses and horses play on a field. They don’t hang out in the stable nursing perpetual boo-boos. There is talent in the current Red Sox rotation. You see it every two or three starts. But what there isn’t is the badass machismo that spits and snarls, “give ME the damned ball” every five days. In short, there’s no emotional leader. And that, not a t-shirt, is what helps to make an ace.
So there goes Pedro’s number towards the sky. Is that where he was pointing all this time? Just kidding. Pedro had an electric arm. Pedro had a changeup of death. But most importantly, Pedro didn’t just stand on the mound – he owned the field. Pedro had chutzpah.
Now, perhaps another August trade surprise is in our future. Waivers be damned, we know they can happen. But should a young, elite arm come our way, the Sox need to make sure they acquire more than just talent. They have to find more than nuclear fastballs and elite command. They need a guy who demands to be on the mound, every five days, any kind of weather, any level of opponent. In fact, the more elite the opponent, the higher the rush. They need the kind of personality that electrifies a crowd on every pitch. Who makes Fenway put down their cellphones and eagerly cheer the presence, as well as the pitcher. They need chutzpah. And with a true leader on the mound every fifth day, our 3-5 guys might start to look a whole lot more promising.
It’s time to acquire the next number on the facade so we can please stop writing years in the infield dirt.