Welcome home, Pedro. Yes, despite all the venom I directed at a certain Mr. Martinez in the past (and I am not talking about his dead-arm brother, Ramon), I will be applauding Pedro as I sit on the couch watching the Sox take on the Mets on Wednesday night. The hatchet has been buried. My seven years of loving Pedro and watching in awe as he made batters look silly have undone the hurt.

The fact is that Pedro disrespected and all but spit in the face of the Red Sox ownership triumvirate and GM Theo Epstein for having the audacity to bring in curt Schilling and not bending over far enough to kiss his skinny Dominican arse. Pedro, like Nomar before him, became jaded by the Dan Duquette/John Harrington reign. They expected the management team to bow to their demands. To ask their opinions on players and deals, to give them the red carpet treatment. Henry, Warner, Luccchino, and Epstein did not play that game. They looked for bang for the buck, for players who took the ball without whining to the press, who did not cry about the media haunting them in the clubhouse.

Pedro Martinez was a bad match for the Boston Red Sox going forward. He, like Roger Clemens before him, needed a change of scenery. He needed a new challenge, a new market, a fresh start. I truly think the team understood it was in his best interest to part ways. Sometimes players, heck, PEOPLE, need that for whatever reason. Nothing too serious, but just a new challenge; Pedro had done everything he could do in Boston. Schilling was the new bulldog. Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester were climbing the ladder, a new star was just a trade away (Josh Beckett), and Manny Ramierez and David Ortiz have survived, somehow, without Brother Pedro there to look out for them.

Pedro, from 1997 through 2002, was the greatest pitcher I ever saw in my lifetime. Better than Clemens, better than Randy Johnson, Schilling, Greg Maddux, Ron Guidry, Dave Stewart, and everyone else who has pitched since the late seventies. He made it look so easy, and before he had to rebuild his shoulder and lost that fastball that Jonathan Papelbon has these days: 97 mph and up that just explodes when it gets to the plate, he was too good to believe. He should have had a dozen no-hitters over those five years, but he was too smart. He, like Clemens, knew enough to save pitches and pitch to contact with the bottom of the order and often paid by having a number eight or nine hitter poke a single. Of course, by the same token, he probably lost a few shutouts by NOT backing down to the number three and four hitters and challenging them every at bat rather than nibbling and giving them a walk.

Pedro was the best ever. He is still damned good. His shoulder/back/body will not last past 2007, a breakdown is inevitable, but I will stand and cheer for him before he throws a pitch and raise a glass to him for all the memories. Then I will root for the Red Sox to tag him for eight runs and get to the bullpen by the fourth inning, just how I want every opposing pitcher to be treated because those socks Pedro wears are blue and orange now.

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