Sports your connection to The Boston Globe

Pedro is the one at fault

This Red Sox-Yankee playoff, which could still be one for the ages, has at least temporarily deteriorated into a WWE steel-cage match. There's a rumor the Sox have hired Hells Angels to guard the Yankee bullpen tonight.

Let's not forget that we are here because of the irresponsible actions of one man: Pedro Martinez.

Excluding the Paul Williams-Yankee bullpen ugliness (nobody ever knows who starts a barroom brawl, but it certainly seemed like the Yankees piled on once they had him down), Pedro's the one who got everybody into this mess. Which begs the question: How come Sox stars behave like babies when they are here, then mature when they go someplace else?

Which one would you rather have now, Sox fans? Roger Clemens -- who kept his composure and behaved like a professional Saturday night, winning the game for his team despite his obvious anger? Or Pedro, the baby who hits a guy after he blows a lead, then points at his head and at Yankee catcher Jorge Posada, threatening "you're next"?

Pedro said a few words yesterday and claimed that gesture was actually him telling Posada that he'll remember Posada's angry words. Sure. And he wasn't trying to hit Karim Garcia. And those young women hang out with Donald Trump because they really dig his hair.

Sox fans don't like to hear this, but Pedro was an embarrassment and a disgrace to baseball Saturday. He gets away with it because he's Pedro. And the Sox front office enables him, just as they do Manny Ramirez. Just as they did with Roger when he was here and Yaz when he was here and Ted when he was here.

The tail still wags the dog around here. The Sox have no control over their stars. That's the way it was for Clemens when he was here. Roger had to go elsewhere to grow up. And we all know it took a while.

Everyone in baseball knows what Pedro was doing in the fourth inning. He'd blown a 2-0 lead. The Yankees were kicking him around Fenway. The old magic was gone and no doubt he was frustrated. It can't be fun knowing your team is 9-15 when you start against the Yankees. So what did he do? With first base empty and a righty on deck, he threw a pitch behind Garcia, grazing him in the shoulder.

Then it got worse. After Garcia's slide into second baseman Todd Walker, and angry words with Pedro, the Yankees and Sox started coming out of their dugouts and Pedro made his outrageous threats. (Oh, I forgot, it wasn't a threat. He was actually telling Posada he needed a haircut.)

No. This was: You're next. I'll hit you in the head, too.

Pretty brave stuff when you never have to bat. Pretty good way to take the attention away from the fact your skills are declining and you have trouble beating this team.Notice how none of Pedro's teammates have rushed to his defense? When he puts that tape around his locker, it's as if he's putting himself on his own island in his own clubhouse.

It's interesting that the $17.5 million, 14-game winner is always talking about respect, yet his actions provoke baseball people to lose respect for him. More now than ever. The stuff still plays pretty well when he throws those four-hit shutouts, but there haven't been many of those lately. His ERA and strikeout ratios are still great, but he wore down in both Oakland games and had nothing when it counted against the Yankees. Do Sox fans still feel good about him as their Game 7 starter? Maybe. But not like before.

The weird part is that Clemens was often a big baby when he played here. He wanted everything his way. He distanced himself from teammates. He didn't pitch well in the postseason. Ownership gave him a long leash. His self-immolation in the fourth game of the 1990 playoffs was a complete disgrace. But now he's equal parts Audie Murphy, Winston Churchill, and Cy Young. Why couldn't he have been that guy when he was here? And why can't Pedro be that guy now?

This isn't about Pedro's non-takedown of Don Zimmer. Martinez had little choice in that matter. He was being charged. The photos look bad, but it's unfair to rip Pedro for Zimmer's misbehavior.

But how come Zimm's the only one apologizing around here? Could Pedro one time stand up and admit he's wrong (angry e-mailers get back -- I already admitted I was wrong about David Ortiz)? He can't admit he threw at Garcia, no one ever does that, but could he apologize for losing his head when he pointed to his head? No. He has to reinvent the gesture.

Maybe it doesn't matter to Sox fans, but that fuzzy Cubs-Red Sox World Series may not be America's dream matchup anymore. The Red Sox have done a lot of damage to themselves in the last two days and last night's ridiculous press conference featuring John W. Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino only contributed to the madness. In violation of the commissioner's order (don't these guys remember that Bud Selig ordered bagman John Harrington to deliver the team to them?) the three amigos stood up and defended everything that happened Saturday, including Pedro's obvious head-hunting.

The new baby Pedro apparently needs demons in order to perform at his best. Throughout this year, he has found imaginary enemies to inspire his talents. His big complaint is always "lack of respect."

His critics are no longer imaginary. Now that they are real, maybe he'll be the pitcher the Sox need in Game 7.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. His e-mail address is

Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer apologized for his role in a benches-clearing incident during Game 3. Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer apologized for his role in a benches-clearing incident during Game 3. (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)
Pedro Martinez's pointed remarks to Jorge Posada left little doubt about his intentions. Pedro Martinez's pointed remarks to Jorge Posada left little doubt about his intentions. (Globe Staff Photo / Jim Davis)
See the Zimmer-Martinez clash
Watch an exclusive shot of the encounter, caught on videotape by spectator Steve Young, who was seated behind 1st base.
Zimmer apologizes
The Yankees bench coach was overcome with emotion during a press conference on Sunday.
Globe Archives Today (free)
Yesterday (free)
Past 30 days
Last 12 months