The Kind Of Peak That Never Comes Again

Fenway Park in the late 90s and early 2000s was a very special place to be a part of.

Remember that when Pedro’s number is retired tonight.

Every writer in New England is about to (rightfully) bombard you with a love letter to Pedro in some form or another, and I encourage you to consume each and every one of them.

However, while reading please remember this:

There isn’t a writer alive who can do Pedro justice.

You were either a part of it or you weren’t, and no explanation—no mix of words or music or memories—can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world.

Luckily, it doesn’t matter if you were a part of it or not because what Pedro Martinez did on the field transcends baseball.

Pedro taught us more about life than anything else.

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How can a person appreciate something as it’s happening when they don’t know it’s happening?

That’s a question I ask a lot.

As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes it’s impossible to appreciate things as they unfold because we have no context in which to place them.

That was never the case with Pedro.

It was impossible not to know what was happening.

There are some things I can’t have a rational discussion about. Better band: Zeppelin or the Stones? Better show: The Simpsons or Family Guy? More sexually attractive: Ronda Rousey or Any Other Woman Ever In The History Of The Universe?

Pedro Martinez is at the top of that list.

He was, is, and will always be the Greatest of All Time.

I’ll spare you the intimate details of our relationship—just know it was love at first sight.

Like any great couple, Pedro and I have an awesome “How We Met” story:

July 8, 1997.

I’m 11 years old and watching the All Star Game alone in my basement on the only television in my house.

It’s the bottom of the 6th and this sewer rat-looking motherfucker enters the game representing the Montreal Expos:

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You should have seen this dummy out there.

The guy was a fucking assassin.

He kept covering his face with his stupid blue glove as he waited for signs, leaving only his lifeless eyes visible to the batter.

He struck out A-Rod, lined out Griffey, and struck out Big Mac.

I swear to it on my very soul that I said aloud to myself, “We have to get this guy.”

Four months later we did.

And then seven years later he left.

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If you’ve never had the pleasure, allow me to explain how most breakups work:

One person looks back at the good times, the other looks back at the bad times, and the truth sits somewhere in the middle.

This is the truth when it comes to Pedro and Boston:

Pedro Martinez left Boston to pitch in New York for more money.

It was an impulsive, misguided, indefensible decision for which both sides are to blame.

The Sox are to blame for not extending him before he got to free agency, but it was Pedro who, in the words of BSG, “leveraged the good will of the championship season into a far-too-generous offer from the Red Sox, then leveraged that offer into a suicidal contract from the Mets.”

That was a thing that happened.

Pedro might be the GOAT, but he also was, is, and will always be the biggest diva of all time, and there’s no better example of that than his leaving Boston.

This city, that player—we were made for each other.

But for as awe-inspiring as he was on the field, Pedro was just as maddening off it.

The guy just couldn’t help himself. There was always a problem. Always.

Pedro Martinez was a moody bitch whose behavior ranged from indirect arrogance to unprovoked petulance.

He created drama where there was none.

He searched for slights in the most innocuous of statements.

He knew how good he was and he acted accordingly.

And sure, you can make excuses for him.

The dude was 5-foot-10 and 146 pounds when he entered the majors.

Not bad numbers if you want to sashay down a runway in Milan during some heroin chic fashion show, but certainly not the measurables of a 200-inning dirt mule.

Pedro had nothing handed, took nothing for granted. The man was his own man.

That’s what we loved about him.

Nevertheless, there were times when we simply couldn’t make excuses.

There’s no need to rehash his every transgression, but “Why the fuck would he do that?” and “Why the fuck would he say that?” were common questions when assessing Pedro’s behavior.

However, that was Pedro’s greatest gift of all.

A conveniently overlooked fact of life is this: Most couples simply pair off and live satisfactory lives from inside a functional relationship. They aren’t interested in challenging each other, they don’t make each other better, and they will never live up to their potential as individuals.

Think about it.

Anyone can cheer for someone like Tom Brady.

Where’s the challenge in that?

But to cheer for Pedro?

Well, let’s just say you had to be prepared to put the work in.

You had to be prepared to tell your friends, “He’s not always like this. You should see him when it’s just the two of us. He’s really sweet.”

And there’s your rub, people:

Nothing came easy for Pedro Martinez, and as a result nothing came easy for Pedro Martinez fans.

I loved before and I’ll love again, but I’ll never love an athlete more than I loved Pedro.

He pushed me to be better fan. He pushed me to be better person.

And if his Hall of Fame speech taught us anything, it’s that a man really can learn from his mistakes.

There was no animosity, no mention of retribution.

He spoke like a warrior poet.

He spoke like a Bostonian.

Boston and Pedro back together, forever, us and him, everyday.

He didn’t make it easy, but there was always the implicit promise that it’d be worth it.

And it was.

It was so fucking worth it.

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*

(Requisite Pedro anecdote for all you kids out there. Best if read in the voice of Wayne Henshaw for full effect:)

September 19, 2004.

Sox vs. Yanks.

It’s a Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium. The AL East crown is still up for grabs.

It’s a HUGE. FRIGGIN’. GAME.

My college roommate, Michael Riordan Daly—one of the true loves of my life and to this day the only Yankee fan from Massachusetts I respect as both a person and baseball fan—had season tickets in Yankee Stadium’s Section 39.

Section 39. The section that does roll call. The infamous Bleacher Creatures.

That Saturday he tells me we’re going to the game.

So how do I prepare?

By not going to bed, of course.

I don’t go to bed because it’s a Saturday night and I’m a sophomore in college and there’s no fucking way I’m burning a Saturday night popping popcorn and watching movies and going to bed early like some asshole.

Not even for Pedro.

I’ve got beers to drink and skirts to chase, brah.

When we leave Sunday morning at 6:00 a.m. I’m a fucking disaster.

Not hung over at all. Still really very nice and drunk.

As a result, I spend the three-hour drive to the Bronx passed out in the back of Michael’s Jeep Wrangler.

Have you ever slept in the back of a Jeep Wrangler?

Fucking miserable.

We get to the game and I wake up and it hits me like a slug to the chest. I am strung the fuck out.

But it’s all good.

After all, Pedro is pitching. The Sox are about to make it do what it do.

I’ve got this. I can rally.

So what ends up happening?

Pedro gets fucking SHELLACKED, of course.

My mainest man gives up 8 runs en route to a 11-1 Yankee victory.

Fucking miserable.

As if that weren’t enough, back then the Bleacher Creatures would pick a fan of the opposing team during the YMCA between the 6th and 7th innings and chant “Why are you gay?” at him.

There’s a whole song that goes along with it sung to the tune of YMCA.

“Why are you gay? I saw you sucking some D-I-C-K!”

I’ll let you guess who they picked.

So yeah, have you ever had hundreds of people chant “Why are you gay?” at you?

No?

Well, I’ve got to tell you: That’s some bucket list shit right there.

Fucking miserable.

A little over a month later the Sox won their first World Series in 86 years after the greatest comeback in sports history.

And you know what?

Days like that made it worth it.

Days like that made it so fucking worth it.

The Same Boy You’ve Always Known

Sorry for the delay between posts, but all I can remember about the last two weeks is giving a guest lecture at Villanova.

Before returning to our regularly scheduled programming, I’d like to share a recent medical breakthrough.

I’m pretty sure I’ve Jonas Salked depression.

If it hasn’t been your day, your week, your month, or even your year, here’s what you should do: Bring a 2 year old to the beach.

Watching a toddler chase seagulls and splash around in the ocean should fetch just the kind of unbridled elation you need to witness if you have holes in the knees of your blues.

So flush your Lexapro, steal a little kid, and head for the coast. Everything is going to be all right.

Also, it helps if the beach is this far from your front door and this is the 2 year old:

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NOW, since I been gone, I realized I missed an important birthday and that’s something we shall have to remedy.

Jack White turned 40 last week. Your thoughts of him aside, there’s no argument: Jack is up there with Kanye, Bono, and Brian Nagle in terms of modern day emotional depth and articulation.

It’s for this reason—and after a rough couple of months involving “Music is Sacred” and a guacamole scandal—that Jack deserves a proper birthday acknowledgement.

After all, your kids will have Jack White posters on their walls.

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Jack White might be 40, but his biggest fans haven’t been born yet.

Obviously that statement sounds foolish considering his career to this point.

Millions of records sold, hundreds of sold out concerts, multiple Grammys, collaborations with what seems like every renowned musician from what seems like every musical genre, and recognition as one of the greatest guitarists of all time.

However, what you and I think of Jack White is irrelevant because we won’t define him.

The curious thing about revisionist history is that the driving influences steering the revision are often those who weren’t witnesses to the very history being revised.

Subsequent generations often articulate landmark moments missed by those who actually lived them.

This is a good thing.

There are times when it’s impossible to appreciate things as they unfold because we have no context in which to place them.

That’s what is happening right now with Jack White.

Ask a group of teenagers what they think of music today. Chances are they will tell you how much it sucks. They will tell you how music today is nothing like it was in the 60s and 70s and how they are jealous of everyone who was lucky enough to grow up during that time.

This answer is entirely unfair to everyone who grew up in the 60s and 70s.

I know a guy who saw Led Zeppelin at the Boston Garden on September 7, 1971. It was nearly three years after the band released their eponymous debut album and a month before they released their fourth and best-selling album.

The setlist included popular songs such as “Dazed and Confused”, “Immigrant Song”, “Whole Lotta Love”, and “Communication Breakdown”.

The band also snuck in some new songs.

Songs such as “Black Dog”, “Going to California”, “Rock and Roll”, and “Stairway to Heaven”.

Personally, I can’t imagine what it was like to be at that show. This guy heard “Stairway to Heaven” live before it was even released. That would easily go down as one of the greatest nights of my life.

But whenever I ask him about the show his review is remarkably measured.

He tells me it was a great concert, but only with the passage of time did he realize, “Holy shit I can’t believe what I saw.”

This isn’t to compare the two musically, but future generations will be jealous of us growing up with Jack White the same way I’m jealous of this guy for seeing Zeppelin.

This jealousy, however, is entirely unfounded.

After all, how can a person be expected to appreciate something as it’s happening when they don’t know it’s happening?[1]

It’s for this reason that we’re destined to be regaled with stories about Jack White that we experienced in real time given by kids who read about it decades later. We’ll have no idea as to what these raconteurs are talking about, but I suspect the stories will go something like this:

Did you know Jack White only recorded in analog?! Did you know he edited his tape with a razor blade?!

Or:

Did you know Jack White assembled one band of men and one band of women and took them both on tour with him and only one band would perform each show and he wouldn’t announce which band it would be until the morning of the show?!

Or:

Do you know why Jack White wanted red, white, and black to be the White Stripes’ colors? It’s because they are the most powerful color combination of all time! Think about it! Everything from a Coke can to a Nazi banner!

As endearing as these history lessons will be, the truth is that if I were to tell future generations about what it was like to grow up with Jack White I would tell them about my first memory of him.

It was his performance on The Late Show With David Letterman with the White Stripes in 2002. I remember him dressed entirely in red, thinking he was a clown, and dismissing him immediately.

I’ll never tell them that, of course.

I’ll make sure to tell them how great it was to be a witness to Jack White’s genius because that’s what they’ll want to hear.

I’ll tell them that, and then I’ll wonder what it was like to see Zeppelin in ’71.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] I wouldn’t expect anyone to admit it, but you know there are people who saw Zeppelin in ‘71 and ran to get a beer when Stairway started because they didn’t recognize it.

 

You Will Never Find A More Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy

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My friend Jillian is an asshole.

To be fair, if you met her you wouldn’t think she’s an asshole. In fact, you’d probably find her exceptionally impressive.

Jillian is engaging and charismatic and went to Harvard Law and is a big city attorney and we are all really proud of her.

But she’s an asshole, and here’s why:

Jillian recently downloaded Tinder. When I asked her why she downloaded Tinder she told me she was “bored.”

Since I’m an awesome friend, I told Jillian that she needed to get over herself.

I told her she didn’t download Tinder because she was “bored.” I told her she downloaded Tinder because she’s insecure and lonely and pathetic and that she should be ashamed of herself.

However, my sensitive insight aside, her story checks out.

Jillian’s story checks out because of what she did once she got Tinder.

As a social experiment—and, more importantly, inspired by Omarion’s “Post To Be”—Jillian decided to download Tinder and text all of her matches, “I might let you get close to me but you gotta eat the booty like groceries” to see what would happen.

Here’s an example, just a little sample:

 

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See?

I told you she was an asshole.

So, for those of you keeping score at home, here are the results:

Jillian texted 172 guys “I might let you get close to me but you gotta eat the booty like groceries.

29 didn’t respond, 23 responded with some variation of LOL, 3 recognized the song, 1 gave an emphatic no, and 116 were unquestionably into it.

116.

(Before we go any further, I’d like to acknowledge how easy this experiment is to criticize so please save your straw man and ad hominem for someone who doesn’t see it coming.

What’s more, when I see stuff like this on Twitter or theCHIVE or wherever I always assume it’s fake, but please remember that this is a blog that no one reads written by an idiot who just wants to watch the Red Sox. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to someone who thinks I’d make this up.

Also, full disclosure: I don’t have Tinder, so I’m hesitant to offer commentary on Jillian’s results.

However, I witnessed countless Tinder dates as a bartender so I’m pretty much an expert.

For example, here’s how every Tinder date goes:

It’s a Tuesday night. The bar is almost empty. The guy is throwing back cocktails as the girl nurses a beer and forces conversation. The guy is there because he wants to have sex because that’s how he measures success in his life. The girl is there because she wants to get married before she turns 30 because that’s how she measures success in her life.

Ladies and gentlemen, believe me when I tell you: You would pay to watch this shit.)

Back to the action!

Let’s get down to glass slacks: Besides the fact that Jillian is an asshole and that the majority of dudes on Tinder will eat a stranger’s ass, what universal truth can we take from this?

Since I’m sure experiments like this have been done before and will be done again, I know that outing Tinder as a wretched hive of scum and villainy isn’t a hot take.

However, these results tell us more than that.

It’s too convenient, too lazy to write off this many guys as standard operating creeps. It’s a statistical impossibility.

Think about it. They have to come from somewhere.

What are their stories? How did they get like this?

Well, the fact is that some of these fuckers are hiding in plain sight.

These guys willing to eat Jillian’s ass sight unseen? You know some of them.

Some of these guys are your coworkers and neighbors.

Some are your friends and family.

Most troubling, some are your boyfriends and husbands.

Of course you don’t want to admit this, but deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties you know it’s true.

Tinder is a cesspool, sure, but the shit has to come from somewhere.

Don’t be naïve enough to think you really know anyone.