On Pedro Martinez and the Continuing Tour of Unfamiliar Restaurant Chains

Today was the first of two days off in a row, which is something that will almost certainly not happen again as the season picks up steam down here.

I ventured to Wal-Mart either last night or the night before- I forget which-and parked my car under a large tree in the employee lot afterwards.

When I returned to my car today, a large branch/frond had fallen off, about the length of a large broom, and weighing far more. It missed my car, which had a good helping of dirt on the roof and windshield, but no damage. I park away from the tree now.

As earlier documented here, one of my first orders of business was to partake in Arby’s when the opportunity presented itself. I’ve done so twice thus far. On the recommendation of a friend, I tried Chick-Fil-A today. Chick-Fil-A, according to the wall poster I read while eating, was founded in Georgia and was a pioneer in the realm of mall food courts. I wanted to buy a Literary Cows calender (“The Pen is Mightier Than the Spatula”), but it requires the purchase of a $20 gift card. I may very well do it, as I have no qualms about going back there three or four more times.

I had a number four, a grilled chicken breast club (bacon, cheese, lettuce tomato), and surprise, southern chicken sandwiches have pickle slices, something I noticed and discarded before diving in. Two packets of honey BBQ sauce were included. I can’t recall having a more sizeable, juicer chicken sandwich anywhere. They do have the distinct idiosyncracy of being closed on Sundays.

What was even more unexpected than the quality of the sandwich (even the bun looked as though it had never seen human hands- try Wendy’s or McDonald’s and see if your bun comes without looking like it just came out of the washing machine!) were the waffle-cut french fries. BEST FRIES EVER. Firm, flavorful, crisp… I liked the Burger King Fries. Arby’s curly fries were clearly superior to Burger King’s. These were almost in the company of Yukon Gold roasted potatoes.

So the next two places to try on my list are Boston Market, which I have had previously, in Boston, with the same friend that recommended Chick-Fil-A (part of me wants to in flashing my driver’s license and wearing my Beckett shirt and cap, and asking what the big idea is), and Sonic, which is heavily advertised in Massachusetts for reasons unbeknowst to me since until about a week ago, I didn’t know that there even was one. Someone

I’m Sorry, BREAKING NEWS JUST IN- sources confirm that my fellow traveler is turning Japanese. I do indeed think so.

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Where were we? Oh, the futility of the Sonic marketing campaign in the New England market, as there do not appear to be any Sonics to patronize. I have learned that there is one in Peabody. I saw one along the strip here in Florida, and that will be the big adventure for another day.

In less than an hour now, Pedro Martinez will be making what could be his last start in the middle of a media circus.

For those of you who didn’t know, I stopped following baseball when I was around twelve or so (1996ish).
By that time playing with my peers was no longer viable, due to my smaller stature, hurt knee, and the clumsiness that befalls many/most around that age. So I shifted my focus to other things, and left baseball as a children’s game, and something that can bring out the absolute worst in older people sometimes.

When I was sixteen, I worked at my second restaurant job with many different individuals of Latin American heritage. One was Mexican, by way of California. One was from Puerto Rico if I’m not mistaken, “Elegante”. The person I took to most was Brazilian. But “Chi-chi from the Bronx” as he referred to himself, whose real name was Miguel, was Dominican. In that August of 2000, in this kitchen with the TV strategically placed, Miguel threw his arm around my shoulder and pointed to the TV, emphatically explaining that I would be lucky to ever see another pitcher like Pedro.

There’s an excellent piece of nostalgia by Chad Finn here:http://touchingallthebases.blogspot.com/2006/06/vote-for-pedro.html

Finn describes memories of Pedro’s turn to pitch in Fenway as events that shut down the city for the summers of 1999 and 2000. Their was a festive air, a palpable sense of excitement, which he likens to the World Cup. Dominican flags were everywhere, and why not? David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez, and Pedro Martinez were close-knit expatriates living the American dream.

My coworker Miguel made that insufferably hot kitchen take the air of a block party whenever Pedro was at work. The pride in his fellow countrymen burst forth in repeated exclamations, “Pedro Martinez de Dominica como yo, Pedro y Dominica prospero ahora y en el futuro!” – Pedro Martinez, Dominican like me, Pedro and the Dominican Republic prosper now and in the future.

I am not Dominican. At the time I probably couldn’t name five Boston players. But Miguel’s genuine enthusiasm was infectious. Every fifth day when Pedro took the hill, it was a party in that kitchen.

Over the years since then I’ve slowly returned to watching baseball. I’d seen the 2004 postseason, and had no idea who Gabe Kapler or Keith Foulke were. I watched Josh and company take the 2007 crown handily. When I first heard the Jon Lester story, I was uneasy, as it sounded almost scripted- beat cancer, attain riches, land the girl, and dominate the office. Slowly but surely, the men seemed more grim. Josh had punctuations of rage and frustration, but was otherwise tight-lipped and soft-spoken.

A few weeks ago, Pedro Martinez returns, full of vigor, life, and perspective. Here comes the block party once more, even though he is beginning to weaken with age. Pedro makes what he does look easy. His persona is transfixing. Here comes Pedro, and doesn’t he just say the dardenst things. Here comes Pedro, for years the best weapon Boston had in the storied rivalry.

I had the chance to see what we thought last week might be his last time in New York, one more time playing the role of David against Goliath. Circumstances have worked out that we get to bid farewell to a baseball legend, and consummate entertainer, one more time, starting in twenty minutes.

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