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Give 'Em Their Due

By Dustin Racioppi
This Yanks-Phils World Series was billed a veritable slugfest by most of the media. And maybe it will be. But two games in we haven't seen any of that. What we have seen is top-notch pitching from some of the premier throwers in baseball.

We know the lines: CC Sabathia gave a gutsy, two-run performance Wednesday night but was out-dueled by an absolutely superb Cliff Lee, who actually looked like Bob Gibson for the opening game. Then Thursday night the Jekyll-Hyde of the Bronx, A.J. Burnett, showed fans that when he's right, he's got some of the most electric and dominating stuff in the game.

Then there's Pedro Martinez, who this post is all about.

As a disclaimer, I am not a Pedro Martinez fan. He's done some bad things to the Yankees in the past and he's one of the most hated opponents of the Bombers. There's no denying that. But what you cannot deny is his spectacular performance at Yankee Stadium in game two.

And the Yankee fans were disappointing at best when he walked off the mound for perhaps the last time at the stadium.

Pedro doesn't have his laser fastball anymore. He's in no way the dominating, Hall-Of-Fame pitcher that he has been in the past. The guy is coming off a year-long layoff due to surgery and is playing with house money with Philadelphia. The fact that he's on this level competing is pretty damn impressive.

And yet, he showed the world Thursday night that he can get by quite well with an 88-mph fastball. Mix in a knee-buckling curveball and keen baseball smarts and what you get is what you got. Pedro had the Yankee lineup completely off balance, and he did it all with a craftiness that you don't see in many pitchers. Prior to the game Charlie Manuel was lambasted for putting No. 45 in for game two. The thought was that Pedro couldn't do it anymore, that he'd get blasted with that short porch and the Yankee fans would break him. The latter couldn't be further from the truth.

But for the Yankee fans to go out of their way and boo and jeer Pedro as he walked off the mound Thursday night, after 7 strong innings beguiling the Bombers' lethal lineup, was bordering on shameful. In fact, it was something you'd expect from Phillies fans. And that's never a good thing.

Point is, give the guy his due. It may be his last time on the mound in Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had the lead. There was no point in rubbing it in.

The past is the past with Pedro. If you have any appreciation for the game of baseball, you are not standing up to throw salt in the wound of a pitcher who has dominated the game for so long. You don't have to applaud or throw the guy a parade. After all, he is an arch rival. But it doesn't hurt to just tip your hat for what was, in the end, a respectable pitching performance from a legendary figure.

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