Working with Pedro: A Q&A with Mike Silverman

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OK, so Mike Silverman graciously answered our questions about working with Pedro Martinez in co-authoring their book, Pedro, and we've published them online here:Q&A with Mike Silverman on Working with Pedro.
 
Great thanks to Mike, and we encourage you to post additional comments and questions in the comments section on the piece in addition to discussing it here--Mike said he would check it out and could answer follow-ups, which is, again, awesome.
 
 

singaporesoxfan

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Great Q&A. I missed the question phase, but is there stuff in the book about Pedro and his kids? I recall a New York mag piece about him saying that he won't let his kids pitch, and on the one hand I understand that as a father - and on the other it seems a waste of any hereditary talent.
 

SoxJox

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Here's a great review by Tom Perr in the WSJ.
 
 
From 1997 to 2003, Pedro Martinez threw a baseball as few men have since the 1800s. Wiry and generously listed at 5-foot-11, Mr. Martinez and his uncommonly long fingers often struck out, occasionally plunked and almost always baffled opposing batters. At his peak, from 1999 to 2000, he was nearly untouchable: He struck out 597 batters in those two seasons while giving up a mere 288 hits in 4301/3 innings. His earned-run average over those two years, in the height of baseball’s steroids era, was 1.90.
 
 
Mr. Martinez looks even better when judged by advanced baseball metrics, such as ERA+, which accounts for the size of ballparks and the overall scoring level of the league in a given year. In 2000, his ERA+ was 291 (the baseline is 100). That’s the best ERA+ since Smiling Tim Keefe, who registered 293 for the Troy Trojans in 1880. Mr. Martinez’s career ERA+ (154) is better than any other starting pitcher in history and trails only Mariano Rivera, the Yankees closer who logged less than half as many innings as Mr. Martinez, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
 
In “Pedro,” Mr. Martinez’s memoir written with longtime Boston Herald baseball writer Michael Silverman, we learn that Mr. Martinez was fueled by rage. He hated the many scouts, managers and coaches who thought he was too small to be a starting pitcher, like Tommy Lasorda, whose Dodgers traded Mr. Martinez to the Montreal Expos in 1993. He despised coaches with rigid beliefs and anyone who required him to be punctual. (Expos pitching coach and eventual Red Sox manager Joe Kerrigan, who takes a heap of abuse from Mr. Martinez, suffered from both flaws.) “I was a born snapper,” Mr. Martinez writes. “There was nobody angrier than I was.”
 
Mr. Martinez treated every batter with contempt. He buzzed those who crowded the plate and bruised those who bad-mouthed him (as Mike Piazza allegedly did after Mr. Martinez signed with the Red Sox) or committed the unpardonable sin of calling for time as he started his delivery (like Gary Sheffield). The Phillies once retaliated against Mr. Martinez by throwing at him; Mr. Martinez charged the mound and tried to smash his helmet over the head of pitcher Mike Williams. “Thank goodness Williams ducked and I missed,” Mr. Martinez writes. “If I had hit him, I think I would have killed him.” A melee ensued and soon Curt Schilling, Mr. Martinez’s future teammate on the Red Sox, was choking Mr. Martinez by pulling on his necklace.
 
Read “Pedro” and you’ll wonder why, exactly, Mr. Martinez is so mad. He did not endure extreme hardship like his former Expos teammate Vladimir Guerrero (see Jonah Keri’s excellent recent book on the Expos, “Up, Up, & Away”). He grew up in a shack in Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic, he and his five siblings living next-door to five cousins, and the boys played baseball all the time, often using sticks for bats and the heads of their sisters’ dolls as balls. The family had no refrigerator, but, Mr. Martinez writes, “we were not so poor that I ever remember skipping a meal.” He went to school and had the good fortune to follow behind his older brother, Ramon, whose success with the Dodgers brought the family a measure of financial security and gave Mr. Martinez an inside track to the majors.
 
Mr. Martinez’s fury seems to have two sources: his parents’ separation (he was 9) and his size. In a league stocked with tall and burly pitchers, Mr. Martinez was a pipsqueak. He started out as a reliever for the Dodgers and pitched well, but coaches and the team doctor thought he wouldn’t hold up as a starter. And so off to Montreal he went, in exchange for second baseman Delino DeShields. It’s a laughably bad trade in hindsight but understandable considering the circumstances—Mr. Martinez’s build, his stubbornness, his temper, his tantrums, his insistence on starting rather than relieving. Montreal fans and journalists hated the deal. Mr. Martinez, convinced that he would be nothing less than great, took it all as a slap across the face. He would prove everyone wrong.
 
“Pedro” will be a treat for anyone who loved watching Mr. Martinez pitch or who loves the craft of pitching. Those wishing to know more about Mr. Martinez the man may be disappointed. He is guarded about his personal life—his wife and children are barely mentioned—and says that he has just one regret: throwing Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer, then 72, to the ground when Zimmer charged Mr. Martinez in the 2003 American League Championship Series. Mr. Martinez has a few barbs for players who took steroids but doesn’t dish much dirt, save one gem about the 2004 Red Sox. After falling behind 3-0 to the Yankees in the ALCS, the Sox took ritual pregame sips from a jug full of Brazilian roots, bark and twigs steeped in alcohol and seasoned with ground-up tablets of Viagra (a concoction mixed by outfielder Manny Ramirez). They won eight straight games and the team’s first World Series since 1918.
 
A month after the Red Sox won the World Series, the team’s general manager, Theo Epstein, sat down with Mr. Martinez, opened his laptop and explained why it did not compute to sign a 33-year-old pitcher to three guaranteed years. Mr. Martinez, feisty as ever, said: “Can your computer pitch?” Off he went to the Mets and then the Phillies, where he often pitched well—and also proved, through the injuries that ended his career, that Mr. Epstein’s computer model had merit. When Mr. Martinez enters the Hall of Fame this summer, though, his plaque will have a Red Sox cap.
 
It’s fitting because no one did more to transform the sad-sack Sox into a dynasty. For this longtime Red Sox fan, the new era began with Mr. Martinez’s signature game, against the Cleveland Indians in the 1999 playoffs. With the score tied 8-8, an injured Mr. Martinez came on—in relief—and no-hit a frightening lineup for six innings with a blend of curveballs and change-ups. Essentially, he threw junk. Mr. Martinez didn’t care that his team was “cursed,” and Red Sox fans began to believe it was no longer absurd to hope they could really win it all. He was that good.
 
 
 

SoxJox

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singaporesoxfan said:
Great Q&A. I missed the question phase, but is there stuff in the book about Pedro and his kids? I recall a New York mag piece about him saying that he won't let his kids pitch, and on the one hand I understand that as a father - and on the other it seems a waste of any hereditary talent.
Perr's review above says they are barely mentioned.
 

Saints Rest

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I'm about halfway thru the book now -- just getting to his the end of his first year in Boston.  What strikes me is the number of allusions he makes to steroid use by others, often in barely-veiled references (e.g. "Barry Bonds arrived in Spring Training with a much bigger physique and a bacd case of back acne.")
 
Has anyone else noticed this?
 

MakMan44

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Yes. I finished the book a couple of days ago, and baseball's relationship to steroids is a pretty consistent topic throughout the latter half the book.  
 

Soxfan in Fla

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It was a great read. Knocked it out in 4 days. Noticed the steroids shots. Had no idea that Kerrigan was that big of an asshole.