While I have often been critical of the Red Sox New Ownership Group (NOG), their stewardship of the New England Sports Network (NESN) has been stellar to say the least. In particular, they understand the never-ending hunger of Red Sox fans to watch historic games over and over—be it in July or January.
I had the good fortune to watch a large chunk of one such recent telecast of the August 29, 2000 Pedro Martinez "1-hitter brawl game" at the Trop in St. Petersburg. In the midst of perhaps his most dominant year, Pedro ignited a classic brawl by plunking Gerald "Ice" Williams on the fourth pitch of the game. After the melee', (in which 5 Devil Rays were ejected), Pedro retired 24 batters in a row—coming within three outs of his first no-hitter (which eludes him to this day).
But Pedro's awesome display (routinely mixing 96 MPH fast-balls with devastating change-ups) was not what caught my attention. Rather, it was what occurred in the midst of a tough at-bat by once-and- future Red Sox catcher John Flaherty to lead off the 9th inning. As Pedro prepared to deliver his 2-2 offering, he paused to notice that his religious chain had broken and was dangling precariously from his neck. He grabbed at it, looked curiously at the detached icon and gathered it into his hip pocket. Can you smell what's coming?
On the very next pitch, Flaherty roped an opposite field base-hit into right-center on a blistering Pedro fast-ball. Said Pedro after losing the no-no: "I think my career is more interesting than one game". Holy smokes, I don't know about that!