Has Pedro Gone Fishin’?

The last pitch for one of the most-vital Mets ever?

The last pitch for one of the most-vital Mets ever?

It’s a bit sad when the great ones fade away, in any sport. Very few know when to call it quits, and allow us to give them a proper gushy, appreciative good-bye. Typically, with a rocking chair and another Hummer.

Most athletes keep playing until someone pries the ball from their cold, wrinkled fingers.

Pedro Martinez, a sure Hall of Famer, was hoping to be the New York Mets‘ fifth starter this season. He’ll be 38 years old in the fall and, after a shoulder injury, pitched just 137 innings in the last two years. A free agent, he appeared to be reasonably healthy in the recent World Baseball Classic, giving up only one hit in six innings for the Dominican Republic

But he was said to be demanding an AIG-sized bonus – $5 million for one year. Certainly not the kind of $1 million offer that was rumored for him. He said he’d rather retire to his fishing boat. “I’m not going to let anybody disrespect my abilities or the way I am,” he told the New York Daily News. “I wouldn’t say I would want to pitch that bad.”

The Mets, like the rest of us in this dog of an economy, weren’t looking to go lavish. So on Monday, manager Jerry Manual announced that Livan Hernandez was starter No. 5.

It’s business. I’m not mad at the Mets. It’s too bad, however. Martinez, like a few others, deserves a grander exit. He deserves it because the Mets may not be perennial World Series contenders today had he not signed the four-year, $53 million deal that brought him to the Mets in 2005.

In fact, behind Tom Seaver, Pedro Martinez may be the second most vital Met ever.

He was the magnet that drew a swarm of Latin talent, and brought the kind of buzz back to Shea that, in part, allowed the new edifice known as Citi Field to be constructed.

He should be able to pitch there. Instead, looks like he’s going fishing.

Adios, Pedro.

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