I agree with you, Mets fans. It’s just not fair. Your team toppled its arch nemesis’ monopoly on the National League East. Your squad established the new pecking order in the new National League. You’ve been patiently waiting for your first breath of October baseball since the fall of 2000. And now it appears that it’s all being yanked away from your grasp. Pedro Martinez is done. Shuddering yet? Don’t worry; it’s not my intention to grind salt into your fresh wounds.What I intend to do is instill an ion of optimism into the minds and souls of all you Mets fans now pondering the cosmic questions. Yes, Pedro has a torn tendon in his left calf muscle. Indeed, the Cardinals are attempting to stage one of the great and most sudden collapses in baseball history. Affirmative, if St. Louis consummates its pursuit of unprecedented failure, you could be facing the trio of Clemens, Pettitte and Oswalt with the World Series on the line.
Granted, none of that sounds optimistic. But assuming Houston doesn’t throw a rock at this glass house in which the Mets appear to be residing these days, the road to the World Series remains open, albeit slightly impeded. Put simply, the Mets are still built to get to the World Series, even sans Pedro. And once that hope becomes a reality, news will break.
Am I declaring that Pedro will absolutely pitch in the Fall Classic? No, I’m neither a doctor nor a visionary. First off, let’s review the facts. Pedro has a torn tendon in his left calf muscle; an injury for which he will not be going under the knife. It is said that he will need a recovery period of four to six weeks. The World Series is still more than three weeks away (and could possibly be pushed back further due to possible tie-breaking scenarios that would postpone the beginning of the playoffs).
Now if surgery were required it would be a foregone conclusion that Pedro would not be available to pitch in the World Series. But it isn’t. Yet the documented word is that Pedro will not pitch, period. I’m sorry, but I will not accept that assertion given the other facts. Who’s to say that the tendon won’t heal properly enough for Pedro to at least give it a go? Who’s to say that an emergency procedure or innovation won’t make it possible for Pedro to pitch? Remember, this is his left calf, not the vital right calf necessary for accelerating off the mound.
Hmmm, all this talk of ace pitchers, tendons, destinies being altered…
Yes, I’m obviously referring to the Curt Schilling, bloody sock, superhero ALCS-saga of two years ago. While it was the sheath of the tendon in his ankle that was torn, Schilling was not medically fit to pitch, as his injury-riddled 2005 season ultimately proved. But sometimes the stage simply outweighs the ailment.
If the Mets find themselves still playing baseball in three weeks, and possibly staring a rematch of the 2000 Subway Series head on, don’t count Pedro out. He may already have his ring, but he also has the memory of his teammate defying the physical odds instilled in his dome-piece. He knows that the Red Sox would not have beaten the Yankees without Curt Schilling. And somewhere not to far from the surface of that remarkable Pedro-ego, that understanding resides.
So today, if Willie Randolph or anyone associated with the Mets is going to tell me definitively, inexorably, that Pedro is finished for the season, they are diminishing the aura of October baseball, where willpower and courage have been known to supplant perceived-reality.
When Pedro spoke in light of the disheartening news, he opted to champion his resilient teammates, saying that, “They’ve done really, really well without me. I hope they can do that again and pick me up during the time I’m limited or away.” Call me an optimist, but those don’t sound like the words of a man who has accepted his fate.