Posted: Wednesday October 13, 2004 2:14AM; Updated: Wednesday October 13, 2004 2:14AM
Pedro Martinez lost two straight starts to the Yankees in September, giving up 17 hits and 13 earned runs in just over 12 innings of work.
NEW YORK -- The indomitable fans of the Yankees waited all of 2 1/2 innings Tuesday night before letting loose. A 6-0 lead, and maybe a few beers, no doubt helped stoke their courage some.
But, sooner or later -- and we all should have picked sooner in that pool -- this was coming out. There was no stopping it.
In the bottom of the third inning in Game 1 of the American League Championship Series here in the Bronx, from somewhere deep among the ruddy masses on a clear, beautiful October night, came a chant. The Chant.
It wasn't particularly original. It was, as you might expect, set to the same rhythmic pulse of "LET'S Go YANK-ees!" Or "DER-ek JE-ter!" Yankees fans, to be honest, need some work on their creativity.
Still, The Chant rolled onward. You can even sing along at home if you want.
"WHO'S Your DAD-eeee? WHO'S Your DAD-eeee?"
The 55,000-plus Yankees fans started the thing in the third, and it grew from there, only to quiet down later when the objects of their derision, the Red Sox, actually began to play. But on Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium, when a certain flop-topped right-hander walks onto the mound at the old ballpark, you'll hear The Chant again. And again. And again.
And if Boston pitcher Pedro Martinez, who has no one to blame for this annoying little ditty but himself, struggles in Game 2 of the ALCS, everyone will hear it again.
And again. And ... well, you get the idea.
"We heard it," Boston centerfielder Johnny Damon said with a smile.
Martinez pitches against the Yankees in Game 2 on Wednesday for the first time since New York spanked him on Sept. 26, spawning the now famous "The Yankees are my daddy" speech. At the time, it was a startling show of weakness from a pitcher that many consider one of the tougher competitors around.
But the Yankees, in a manner of speaking, have been Martinez's daddy -- if by that we mean that they've ruled him with an iron fist and have occasionally taken him out to the woodshed for a nice whupping.
Martinez lost two straight starts to the Yankees in September, giving up 17 hits and 13 earned runs in just over 12 innings of work. He probably was left in the ballgame too long in the last one -- reminiscent, if you've been paying attention, of Game 7 of last year's ALCS -- but the fact remains, the Yankees were getting to him.
Which makes Martinez's start in Game 2 that much more important. After the Red Sox lost Game 1 on Tuesday, Martinez can't afford to let the Yankees get to him this time around.
If ever a kid needed to rebel against his papa, now's the time.
"I expect him to be on. We need him to be on," said Damon. "There's no way we can get back to Boston down 2-0."
The questions remain, though: Is Martinez over it?
Do the Yankees own him?
Who IS his daddy?
"Well, I'm his daddy," teammate Kevin Millar joked before Game 1. "So he answers to me first."
Martinez wasn't around to talk about his upcoming start, declining to attend the traditional day-before press conference. Instead, the folks at Major League Baseball gave us Millar, the heavily goateed first baseman who last year brought us Boston's "Cowboy up!" slogan.
And Millar, as you might expect, backed his boy to the hilt.
"Pedro is one of the best big-game pitchers out there," Millar said. "I don't think there is a baseball club out there that would not want Pedro in a big game.
"I would not want anybody on the mound in Game 2 other than Pedro Martinez. Because I'm his daddy."
OK, OK, OK. Parentage aside, Wednesday represents a huge start for Martinez, one of the most important of his career. He can answer a lot of questions with a vintage Pedro performance.
Including the one that everyone at the stadium will be chanting.