A World Series Game 6 doesn't normally need much to embellish it. The stakes are clear and they are high enough that the individual storylines usually pale in comparison to the champagne on ice outside one team's locker room. That's not the case with the game that will unfold in the Bronx on Wednesday night.
For that we can thank the unique baseball personality that is Pedro Martinez. The man who grinned his way through the boos that accompanied his departure from last week's Game 2 returns to the Yankee Stadium mound one more time with one more chance to drive a dagger into the hearts of the fans who love to hate him. Perhaps that's why Pedro, who has always seemed one step ahead of the rest of us, was grinning. He knew that he'd have another chance to make a memory against the team he once called his daddy.
There's no need to recount all of the other memories because they are etched into the brains of everyone who watched them. The Yankees have beaten Pedro, they've lost to them and they've fought with him over the years and now their long dance has reached its almost certain end in a game worthy of their rivalry. He may not be the most influential player in the history of Yankee Stadium, as he claimed last week, but he's right at the top of the list of players who made the place a more interesting, enjoyable and, occasionally, infuriating place to spend a few hours.
In such a heated atmosphere, it's tough to stop and take the chance to appreciate the moment but you really should. Martinez makes baseball better and more fun and Game 6 would be less intriguing if Cole Hamels or J.A. Happ were taking the ball for the Phillies. It's also worth noting that if the Yankees beat him, they'll beat the same guy who helped beat them in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, and closing once and for all the painful wound the Red Sox opened that night.
Pedro's opposite number on Wednesday night, Andy Pettitte, is his opposite in many ways. He's lefthanded, isn't prone to saying anything particularly memorable and doesn't wear a head full of bouncy curls. The only similarity is that they are a pair of veterans who have been on opposite sides of so many memorable battles and aren't likely to find themselves on this kind of stage again. They are, in the words of the ever-quotable Martinez, "two old goats out there doing the best they can and having fun with it."
It should be a sight to see. Game 6 might not need embellishment, but it has it all the same.