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Hoping to avoid a negative charge

During the Red Sox-Yankees series the Globe is exchanging sports columns with the New York Times.

Root for this Yankees-Red Sox showdown to end no later than Game 6 tomorrow. Root fervently, if only to eliminate the possibility of an ugly scene.

Should a decisive Game 7 occur Thursday night at Yankee Stadium, all the commotion last Saturday at Fenway Park might resemble a tea-and-crumpets party compared with what could develop with Pedro Martinez on the mound for the Red Sox and a World Series berth up for grabs.

Unless there is a Game 7, Martinez won't pitch again in this American League Championship Series. Grady Little, the Red Sox manager, insisted last night that no matter what the situation, Martinez would not start Game 6 on only three days' rest.

Over the years, fans at Yankee Stadium have never been known to be hospitable to visiting villains. Forget the usual heated boos. Those boos are polite compared with the little batteries that some outfielders in gray uniforms have had fired at them from the grandstand and the bleachers.

And in a Game 7, Pedro Martinez would be a visiting villain unlike any other.

During last Thursday's Game 2, voices in the Stadium bleachers were chanting, "We Want Pedro!" And that was long before he ignited Saturday's soiree by flinging a head-high fastball that buzzed Yankees outfielder Karim Garcia on the back of his shoulder. And before he shoved the 72-year-old Don Zimmer, the Yankees' beloved bench coach, to the grass in front of Boston's dugout while everybody else was watching Red Sox slugger Manny Ramirez object to a Roger Clemens fastball that was nowhere near his helmet.

In a Game 7, all those voices in the Stadium bleachers (as well as those in the luxury suites, the box seats, and the grandstand) would want Pedro more than ever. Want him to be shelled by Yankees batters.

Judging by Martinez's fine for his involvement Saturday, the commissioner's office obviously considered him the primary culprit. He was fined $50,000, more than the combined total of the other three fines -- $25,000 for Ramirez, $10,000 for Garcia, and $5,000 for Zimmer, who charged at Martinez.

"That's a lot of money for one pitch," said Derek Lowe, the Red Sox' starter who will try to give Boston a 3-2 series lead in today's Game 5, referring to Martinez's fastball that buzzed Garcia. He'll probably go through the due process, whatever that is, to try to get it lowered.

Considering Martinez's reputation, it's not much money for all the other pitches that got away from him over the years, notably the two inside fastballs at Yankee Stadium July 7 that sent Derek Jeter and Alfonso Soriano to the hospital for X-rays of their bruised hands -- Jeter's left, Soriano's right. Fortunately for the Yankees, the X-rays were negative and both players soon returned to the lineup.

What happened to Jeter and Soriano that day hasn't been forgotten by Yankees fans, just as Zimmer hadn't forgotten.

As if Yankees fans weren't angry enough at Pedro, even the mayor is involved. No, not Rudolph W. Giuliani in the Yankees jacket. Now that he's no longer the mayor, Rudy is no longer the Yankees' official cheerleader at Stadium games. This time a virtual Stadium stranger, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, stirred the fire when asked about Pedro's grounding of Zimmer.

"If that happened in New York, we would have arrested the perpetrator," Bloomberg said. "Nobody should throw a 70-year-old man to the ground, period."

Pedro the Perpetrator -- the mayor obviously has a gift for coining a nickname. But when Bloomberg spoke those memorable words at a Columbus Day parade in the Bronx on Sunday, he was wearing, pardon the expression, red socks. His explanation was that he wore red socks to complement the red, white, and green of the Italian flag, just as he wore tan socks to the Hispanic Parade on Fifth Avenue later that day, and green socks to the St. Patrick's Day parade.

George Steinbrenner might not accept the mayor's red socks explanation. When the Red Sox were at the Stadium early last month, he loudly objected to the Stadium Club menu offering New England clam chowder.

If there is a Game 7 with Martinez on the mound and Bloomberg in attendance, be assured that he won't be wearing red socks. Or tan or green socks. Not to tell the mayor how to dress, but a pair of navy blue socks would nicely complement the navy blue Yankee jacket and the Yankee cap Steinbrenner would surely want him to wear.

But if there is a Game 7 with Martinez on the mound, Bloomberg should be more concerned with the behavior of those Yankees fans who might be more concerned with the visiting villain.

Names or even nicknames will never hurt Martinez, but in the absence of sticks and stones, a battery might. When he's on the mound or when he warms up in the bullpen, he would be within range of any Yankees loyalist with a good arm. But if there's no Game 7, Pedro the Perpetrator will be safe.

Until next season.

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