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Pedro Martinez had a nearly-unbelievable season in 1999, but it would be hard to argue that his 2000 was not superior. After back-to-back trips to the postseason, Dan Duquette was gunning for a third. He made a couple of moves over the winter. The Sox looked to be cornering the Korean market when they signed a third Korean pitcher, left-hander Sang-Hoon Lee with his long, flowing orange-tinted hair (he claimed “Bill Lee was crazy! So am I.”) And they traded Everett for Everett – sending Adam to Houston for Carl Everett, signing “Jurassic Carl” to a multi-year deal. He’d earned his nickname by saying he didn’t believe in dinosaurs because he’d never seen one. The team also signed Tommy Harper as a coach, helping overcome some of the stain of past racial discrimination (Harper had been fired following the 1985 season, after he had complained about a whites-only event held by the Elks Club in Winter Haven during spring training.) Tommy said of the Duquette-led initiative: “This is a very different atmosphere altogether. It’s refreshing.” Pedro pitched a 2-0 two-hitter on Opening Night in Seattle, striking out 12. Brother Ramon Martinez pitched the Fenway home opener, and Boston trounced Minnesota, 13-4, behind home runs on each side of the plate by the switch-hitting Carl Everett. The hermanos Martinez were the only two pitchers on the Red Sox staff who won in double digits. Ramon was 10-8, despite a 6.13 ERA. Even when Pedro lost, sometimes it was only for lack of run support – witness his first loss, the May 6 game when he struck out 17 Mariners and only gave up one run, but lost. The highlight of the year was probably the Sunday night game on May 28 in Yankee Stadium. Both teams were tied for first and Pedro was matched up with Roger Clemens. The game was scoreless until the ninth, when Trot Nixon hit a two-run home run, and Pedro won 2-0, and Boston was alone in first place. Pedro Martinez almost had himself a perfect game on August 29, putting down the first 24 Devil Rays in order. Facing Tampa Bay catcher John Flaherty in the top of the ninth, the chain holding Pedro’s crucifix. He tucked it in his back pocket, and Flaherty stroked the next pitch for a clean single – Pedro struck out 13 and walked none. Flaherty was the only man to reach base. Pedro struck out 13 and walked none – though eight Devil Rays were ejected at one point or another during the often-raucous game. Carl Everett made big news back on July 15, exploding when plate umpire Ron Kulpa drew a line in the batter’s box to keep Carl in the box. Everett bumped Kulpa and the two butted heads; Everett was suspended 10 days and fined. Even missing those games, however, he was a force on offense – batting an even .300 and leading the team in both home runs (34) and RBIs (108). The top batting average belonged to Nomar Garciaparra, who won the AL batting crown (for the second year in a row) with his .372, the highest single-season average for any Red Sox right-handed hitter ever. It was Nomar’s fifth year in the league, and every year he’d hit for a higher average than the year before. Pedro Martinez also won one of baseball’s major awards for the second year in a row – the Cy Young Award. His 18-6 record may not have seemed as impressive as the 23-4 the year before, but his 1.74 ERA was much better and the WHIP he posted (0.7373) is the lowest WHIP ever recorded by any pitcher in baseball history. Opponents batted .167 against him, the lowest season mark ever posted by a Boston pitcher. With 32 walks and 284 K’s, he had a 9-1 ratio. Relative to the rest of the league, Pedro’s earned run average was almost exactly two full runs better than the #2 finisher (Clemens, at 3.70), and more than three runs below the league average of 4.91,and had 72 more strikeouts than #2 Bartolo Colon. Derek Lowe relieved in 74 games, with 42 saves and a 2.56 ERA. But the 2000 Red Sox failed to make the postseason for the third year in a row. They finished in second place (85-77), but Seattle won the wild card. On October 6, CEO John Harrington announced that the Yawkey Estate would entertain offers to buy the Red Sox. The plan to build an ersatz Fenway Park across the street had foundered because it was impossible to attract enough private funding, despite pledges of over $300 million of public money for infrastructure “improvements” in the area. In December, the Sox failed to sign pitcher Mike Mussina, but ended up committing $160 million to sign Cleveland outfielder Manny Ramirez for the next eight years.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Adam Everett, Bill Lee, Carl Everett, Cy Young Award, Derek Lowe, John Flaherty, John Harrington, Manny Ramirez, Mike Mussina, Nomar Garciaparra, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Roger Clemens, Sang-Hoon Lee, Tommy Harper, Trot Nixon

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