With Martinez, Mets are relevant again

NEW YORK -- The weeks of waiting have finally paid off for the Mets, who will introduce Pedro Martinez at an 11 a.m. press conference this morning. <P> Not that anyone really needs an introduction to Pedro. After all, this was the man who proudly boasted in October that he'd somehow captured the attention of the entire city of New York.

That's something that the 33-year-old Martinez can get used to. The Mets are suddenly back in play, not only as challengers for the National League East – although GM Omar Minaya needs now to follow through on his promises to acquire a big bat (Carlos Delgado and Moises Alou are on the radar) – but also as daily contenders for the back pages in the city.

With Martinez, 28-inch Dominican actor Nelson de la Rosa (you haven't heard the last of him yet) and Kris Benson's wife Anna (ditto) on board, the Mets have the firepower to make some huge media-grinding waves this year.

Heck, Jason Giambi probably wishes the Mets had done this a couple of weeks ago.

But that's not the reason the Mets are shelling out approximately $54 million dollars to coerce Martinez that Shea Stadium is the place for his theatrics. Martinez, while lending the Mets credibility and a public polarizing target, also makes the Mets a better baseball team.

His 16 wins last season for Boston would have automatically made him the Mets' best pitcher in 2004, which is what he is anyway. Martinez is a sure bet to start Opening Day in Cincinnati, assuming his labrum holds up to the Grapefruit League and the bustling nightlife of Port St. Lucie.

Who among the millions of New York baseball fans – be it Mets, Yankees, Red Sox or otherwise – won't be tuning in on Apr. 4 to see how Martinez fares on a chilly afternoon at Great American Ballpark?

See, that's what we're talking about. For the first time in a long while – perhaps since Mike Piazza skied to left-center field to end the 2000 World Series – the Mets matter.

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