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Sports Illustrated brings 'Baseball's Greatest' into focus

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, left,

Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez, left, now a special assistant to the team, speaks with general manager Ben Cherington, during a spring training baseball workout. (Feb. 20, 2013) (Credit: AP)

Using the term "on top of his game" to describe Pedro Martinez could apply to his superb, Hall of Fame-caliber playing career or his surprisingly excellent commentary as an analyst for TBS' post-game coverage.

On the pages of Sports Illustrated's new, beautifully illustrated, coffee table book, "Baseball's Greatest," the phrase is focused on Pedro's performance during the 2004 World Series, a masterful start that helped end "The Curse of the Bambino."

The typically excellent Tom Verducci (as usual, on top of his game, too) begins the essay by noting that Martinez skipped a pitcher's meeting to go over scouting reports for the Red Sox's World Series opponent, the Cardinals.

"We have some different people around here," catcher Jason Varitek says.

From early St. Louis opportunities denied to Martinez's dominance with his changeup, the piece gives you a good idea of why the book ranks Pedro as the 8th best righthanded pitcher ever (between No. 7 Roger Clemens and No. 9 Bob Feller).

"Baseball's Greatest" provides illustrations, commentary and top-10 rankings for each offensive position, lefthanded and righthanded pitchers, relievers, managers, games, ballparks, franchises, sluggers, base runners, defensive players and a host of other categories.

It's not something that will neccesarily expand your knowledge of the game if you're anything more than a casual fan, but the selection of the pictures are worth the $32.95 price alone. Don't believe me? Go to a book retailer (I think there are a few left) and flip to the picture of Roberto Clemente opposite the table of contents. Every scratch in his batting helmet and each pore, crack and valley of his skin is visible in a clarity that rivals anything in HD.

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