by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
When I first saw Danica Patrick about 10 years ago, I was watching a sports show about auto racing on television. It was a show that she was hosting, and at that time, I had no clue that she was a driver. It was 6 months later that I found out that she was driving Indy style cars in the Indy Racing League.
She soon had a contract driving for Andretti Racing, driving Indy cars, and I was amazed. I am a NASCAR fan and have been for quite a while, so I never watch the Indy Car Racing League unless it’s the Indianapolis 500. Since you don’t see many women driving race cars, and the Indianapolis 500, which is known as The Great American Race was coming up, I figured this would be a good time to check out Danica just to see if she could really drive. I was, to say the least, impressed with the way she handled that car going over 200 miles per hour. An Indy car can go as fast as 240 mph, and the car is made of a lightweight material called "carbon fiber". When you have a crash going over 200 mph in a carbon fiber car, there’s not much left, and Danica had no fear. Not to mention that she was racing with men who sometimes can be a little disrespectful of a woman in a man’s game. One thing I did notice about her that I thought was beneficial because she was racing with men, she has a temper, and will not back down to anyone.
She was raised just outside of Chicago, Illinois, and grew up racing "go carts", and when I first saw her on T.V. she looked good enough to be a model. Come to find out, that’s what she does when she’s not racing. She was only the second woman to lead laps at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and after about 5 years with the Indy League, she decided to make the jump to NASCAR. When you start in NASCAR, you must first run in what’s called the Nationwide Series. And since she has been a spokesperson for the web site GoDaddy.com for quite awhile, they have traveled with her throughout her racing career. They were with her during her time in Indy Cars, and moved right to the Nationwide series with her. Since sponsorship is a big part of any race team, if you bring your own sponsor with, you can just about be assured that you will get hired on any race team if you have a reasonable amount of talent.
She was fortunate to be picked up by J.R. Motor Sports which is run by Dale Earnhardt Jr., in 2012 to run the Nationwide Series. After that first year, which had it’s ups and downs, she was ready to move up to the big show known as the "Sprint Cup" series. She signed on with Tony Steward and became a part of the Steward / Haas Racing stable in 2013. And yes, she still has GoDaddy.com as her sponsor, and 2 year ago, she became the first woman to win the pole position and lead a lap at the famed Daytona 500.
So while it may be tough competing in a mans world as a woman, it can be done even going 200 miles per hour. So if you get the chance to see a Sprint Cup Race, be on the lookout for the lime green GoDaddy.con Chevrolet, and watch a "fast woman" at work..
Photo courtesy of ZAP2IT.COM
by Dennis Townsend, Contributing Writer
The NFL draft is over and while it was a fast and furious event of deal making and give and takes, as we all saw in the Kevin Costner movie, Draft Day, it was also time to answer a pretty big question. And if you think I was talking about who got Heisman Trophy winner, Johnny (Football) Manziel, I’m sorry to say you’re wrong. The big question was who would draft the first openly gay football player, Michael Sam, and bring change to the National Football League.
Well, that question was answered in the seventh round when the St. Louis Rams selected the Southeastern Conference defensive player of the year. While playing for Missouri, his coaches and players all kept his secret until he decided to disclosed it to the media earlier last year. And to prove that it was not a distraction to either him or the team, he went on to have the best year in his college career. While waiting to get the call, Michael Sam was at the home of his agent, Joe Barkett, and naturally, ESPN, and the NFL Network had camera’s there and at the ready to capture the big moment. Sam had family and friends there as well as his partner and when the call finally came, the 6-foot-2, 255 pound defensive end teared up and gave his boyfriend a kiss on the lips and a long hug. Now while we all knew about the relationship, we thought we could sanitize ourselves from actually having to see a show of affection between Sam and his partner, it seemed to me that he might have jumped a little too far outside the closet with the kiss. ESPN and the NFL Network had their camera’s there just so they wouldn't miss an opportunity to solidify the facts. And just to show everyone that he is comfortable with who he is, after having some cake, he again gave his boyfriend a kiss.
Now the critics say that it was not a sure thing that he would be drafted not because he’s gay, but because of what he had to bring to the NFL. They say that he is too short to play defensive end in the NFL, and slower than most outside linebackers, a position he would have had to transition to in the pros. The mere fact that he was selected 249th overall out of 256, made people wonder if he would be able to even make the grade.
Well, I guess that's a question that's been answered with his recent termination from the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. That's where he wound up after he was released from the Rams. Did he get a fair shot? He says that he did get a fair shot, and he will also tell you that he still plans on playing football in the NFL. One thing's for sure, he has broken the ground to enable all gay football players to stick a foot outside of the closet if that's what they wish to do. And with the recent rulings by the courts across this country legalizing gay marriages, it won't be long before the whole gay subject will be passé.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons.com
by Phoenix Desertsong
Is Pedro a Hall-of-Fame Pitcher? Yes!
As one who grew up watching the exploits of Pedro Martinez on the mound for the Boston Red Sox, I can tell you without a doubt that he is the greatest pitcher I have ever watched. I can quote a bunch of numbers from Baseball Reference that are pretty impressive. But there are others that will say he only had five truly elite seasons. Looking at the raw numbers, that argument could certainly be made.
Overall, over 18 seasons of Major League Baseball, Pedro accumulated 409 starts (219-100 W-L), 3154 strikeouts against 760 walks (4.15 K/BB per 9 innings) and 82.6 WAR.
Pedro's Early Career
Pedro began his MLB career with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1992. He had one start and one relief appearance. In 1993, he was given a full-time bullpen job. While he did make 2 starts, he appeared in 65 games overall, and over 107 innings, he recorded 119 strikeouts, but also collected 57 walks. All in all, Pedro was worth almost 3 WAR just as a reliever. He clearly had talent, and looked like he deserved a shot to prove himself in the starting rotation.
That chance would happen not in Los Angeles for Pedro, as he was traded to the Montreal Expos for second baseman Delino Deshields. This proved to be a steal for then General Manager Dan Duquette of Montreal. In 1994, the strike-shortened season, Pedro was a part of a pretty good Expos team, and made 23 starts with decent results. He finished with a 3.42 ERA, As a 22-year old, though, he was still a bit raw. He walked fewer batters than he had the season before, he also hit 11 batters. As it would turn out, though, it was because Pedro was never afraid to pitch inside, something that would make him a very special pitcher.
In 1995 and 1996, Pedro was a good, if not spectacular pitcher for the Expos. He was solid, but still struggled with his command a bit. Still, it was clear he had the talent to be an ace, something that in 1997 finally was realized.
The Greatest 5 Pitching Seasons on Record?
Pedro's first truly dominant season in 1997 was one of the most dominant seasons on record for any pitcher. This included 13 complete games and 4 shutouts. His baseball card stats were phenomenal: 17-8, 1.90 ERA in 241 1/3 innings with 305 strikeouts against only 67 walks (for an 8.7 WAR according to Baseball Reference.) This earned him his first of 3 Cy Young awards.
This dominant led the Boston Red Sox to trade for Pedro after that season, surrendering top pitching prospects Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. While his first season in Boston was nothing like his 1997 season, he still finished second in Cy Young voting. His numbers were definitely ace-worthy as well: 19-7, 2.89 ERA (63% below league average), 251 strikeouts to 67 walks, and was worth 6.9 WAR to Boston. He would be worth 45 WAR more to the Red Sox over the next six seasons (including an injury-plagued 2001 season). Four of those seasons may be four of the best pitching seasons (especially with the high-powered offenses of the American League) of all-time.
The next two years, 1999 and 2000, would be the two best of Pedro's career. In 1999, Pedro had a win loss record of 23-4 in 29 starts with 5 complete games. He led the league with a career high 313 strikeouts against only 37 walks, a rare feat to be sure. He was worth 9 and a half wins that year to the Red Sox (9.5 WAR). The next season in 2000, he had a record of 18-6 again in 29 starts, but an even lower ERA and 284 strikeouts against 32 walks. He won the Cy Young Award in the American League both seasons. In 2000, he had the highest WAR of his career (11.4 WAR), adding about 11 wins to his team that year.
To put a WAR of 11.4 in perspective, Babe Ruth had a 11.5 WAR in 1920 and an 11.4 WAR season in 1924, Lou Gehrig had a 11.5 WAR in 1927. The last pitcher to post a WAR total that high was Roger Clemens in 1997 with 11.8 WAR for the Blue Jays. The only other pitchers beside Walter Johnson in the 1910's and 1920's to post higher single-season WAR totals are Dwight Gooden (13 WAR in 1985), Steve Carlton (12.1 WAR in 1972), and Bob Gibson (11.7 WAR in 1968). Johnson, Gibson, and Carlton are in the Hall of Fame. For awhile, it appeared Gooden could have been, as well, were it not for his personal issues.
Pedro would have an injury-marred 2001, but still managed to start 18 games and produce a 4.9 WAR. It's very likely barring the injury he could have had yet another Cy Young Award caliber season. He would return to form in 2002, however, with a 20-4 record and a 2.26 ERA (best in the league) and a 6.2 WAR.
However, it was clear that the injury had taken its toll on his strikeout rate, as he struck out "only" 239 batters in 199 innings. His walk rate was still excellent, however, as he walked only 40 in those innings. But he would not win the Cy Young Award that year, or in fact, ever again, as he lost the crown to Barry Zito. Looking at the numbers, however, Zito was not really as good as Pedro. Zito won 3 more games and made 5 more starts. He didn't strikeout as many as Pedro (182) and walked more (78) in 229 innings (only 30 more than Pedro).
In 2003, Pedro had the last of his 5 most dominant seasons. For a second straight season, his strikeout rate fell slightly and he walked a few more batters than usual. Still he went 14-4 (a record very deceiving because he received a great deal of no-decisions that year) with 2.22 ERA in 29 starts. He did increase his WAR total, however, with a mark of 7.8 WAR. He'd never reach that mark again.
The End of Pedro's Dominance
Without a doubt, 2004 marked the end of Pedro's run of dominance. While he was still a 5 WAR pitcher, he was clearly nowhere near the ace that he once was. Curt Schilling assumed that role that year with his 7.5 WAR. Schilling won 21 games against 6 losses, and Pedro won 16 against 9 losses. While win-loss record is not always indicative of true pitching performance, in Pedro's case, he was becoming inconsistent. A 3.90 ERA was not a number you would see from Pedro. It would actually come out to be the third highest season total of his career.
After the season, the Red Sox and Pedro decided to move on, and Pedro signed a lucrative four year deal with the New York Mets. In 2005, on paper, Pedro looked great for the Mets. But for the first time since 2005, he failed to strike out at least a batter per inning, although he walked fewer batters than in 2004. He was still an ace, though aging. But in 2006, the wheels began to fall off. He only pitched 137 innings in 23 starts and had a roughly league average 4.48 ERA. He was still a "good" pitcher, but his overall dominance was clearly gone and his arm began to really bother him at that point.
2007 would be a relatively lost season for Pedro, him having only 5 starts, although he pitched fairly well in those starts. In 2008, everything fell apart for Pedro and in twenty starts was practically a replacement-level scrub (-0.5 WAR). That looked like the very end for Pedro.
However, in the later half of 2009, Pedro decided to make a comeback with the Phillies. After doing fairly well in the minors, he was called up to the big club and made it into the playoffs. While he wasn't spectacular down the stretch for the Phillies, he was certainly useful, and won his only start in the NLCS. However, the Yankees beat him in both of his starts in the World Series on their way to the World Series title. That was the end for Pedro.
Pedro Compared to Other Hall of Famers
Pedro's career 80.5 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) puts him in 51st place all-time. In and of itself, that's a pretty special accomplishment. This puts him on par with Robin Roberts (career 80.1 WAR) and not far off from Gaylord Perry (career 84.5 WAR) and Steve Carlton (career 84.6 WAR). As all of those pitchers are in the Hall of Fame, Pedro's in very good company.
Even if you don't buy into the WAR statistic, looking at the career numbers of Roberts, Perry, and Carlton show that they pitched many more starts than Pedro. For Pedro to be able to amass the same Career WAR as pitchers with 600+ starts in only 409 starts is very impressive. Also, take into account that a good chunk of those later starts were with him wearing down considerably. Even though he had five truly dominant seasons, he also had five or six pretty good ones, on which most teams he would be considered an ace or at least a #2 starter.
Consider that he had 5 out of this world seasons and 5 All-Star level seasons on top of that, you could say that Pedro really had 10 very good years overall. He gave his teams tons of value whenever he pitched, except for that dismal 2008 season with the Mets. Even taking his lost season and that into account, he basically produced the same value as his potential Hall-of-Fame peers in far fewer starts.
Ryan Roberts had 609 starts over 19 years. Perry had 690 starts over 22 years. Carlton had 709 starts over 24 years. Pedro generally out-performed Roberts in 200 fewer starts and did almost what Carlton and Perry did in 300 fewer starts. Baseball fans can all agree that Roberts, Carlton, and Perry were all great pitchers that belong in the Hall of Fame. While he isn't quite to the level of Bert Blyleven (89.3), Randy Johnson (96.3) or Greg Maddux (101.6), he's in the neighborhood.
So by the overall numbers overall, he was probably the fifth best pitcher of his era, if you include Roger Clemens 100+ career WAR. But no one had 5 seasons like Pedro did. No one dominated the baseball scene the way he did. Watching Pedro pitch was watching a masterpiece almost every time he took the mound.
The memories alone are probably what make us think he was the greatest of all time. As we can now see, his top seasons most certainly were among some of the greatest of all time for pitching (by WAR standards). However, he's not quite the greatest of all time. He's still worthy of being in there, and in 2015, Pedro would indeed become enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first chance.
Since retiring, Pedro continues to work with young pitchers and does commentary on baseball broadcasts for TBS.
Thanks for such an awesome career, Pedro!
Photo credits: All pictures courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Lyn Lomasi is founder and owner of the Brand Shamans Content Community. Services include ordained soul therapy and healing ministry, business success coaching, business success services, handcrafted healing jewelry, ethereal and anointing oils, altar and spiritual supplies and services, handcrafted healing beauty products, and more!
Lyn is your brand healing, soul healing, marketing & content superhero to the rescue! While rescuing civilians from boring business practices and energy vampires, this awesomely crazy family conquers evil and creates change.
They live among tigers, dragons, mermaids, unicorns, and other fantastic energies, teaching others to claim their own power and do the same.
By supporting us, you support a dedicated parent, healer, and minority small business that donates to several causes. Profits from our all-inclusive store, Intent-sive Nature support these causes and our beautiful family!
HIRE OR SHOP WITH LYN | CONTACT LYN