BOSTON: Former the Boston Red Sox pitcher Pedro Martinez greets the fans before the game against the New York Yankees during Opening Night at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
For one thing, just in case you were wondering, Martínez knows exactly which writers (George King and LaVelle Neal III) left him completely off their MVP ballots in 1999.
Were you ever tempted to take steroids?
No. No. Because when I was in Triple-A, I was told that I was too small, that I was too fragile to pitch in the big leagues in the Dodgers organization. Back then, I felt tempted. One of my teammates said, ‘I have a doctor, if you want to go and get a shot and get whatever and get big...' He never gave me details. I asked him what would happen. How would that work? He specifically said that there are certain areas of a man that will get damaged. As soon as he said that, I said, ‘No. There's no way that I will go for that.'
Steroids, they came into baseball very smoothly. They were left there for a long time. They did their job and did their damage to baseball. But I was never interested. I was so willing to prove to everybody that I could do it. ... I wanted to prove everybody so wrong. I finally did it. I'm thankful for not ever taking anything illegal.
Now, let the record show that Pedro Martínez categorically denies using steroids. But his rationale is not that using steroids was cheating, and thus wrong; his rationale was that he didn't want to risk damage to certain areas.
Which is fine. My point is that within the moral universe of professional athletes, "cheating" really isn't something they spend a lot of time worrying about. That said, Pedro doesn't seem to think that acknowledged steroids users should be in the Hall of Fame. Which I'm guessing is a minority opinion among his generation of players, though someday we'll know for sure.
One more thing I learned ... I've long been been fascinated by "ghost players" ... guys who were on active rosters in the majors but never actually got into a game. They wore the uniform, they were paid as major leaguers, but don't appear on the lists because they never got into a game. According to Pedro, his younger brother Jesus once spent a month in the majors with the Dodgers but never actually pitched.
Anyway, it's entertaining and Pedro sort of accuses MVP voters of racism. So there's that, too.