Upon his addition to TBS’s postseason roster of analysts two years ago, Pedro Martinez acknowledged he was giving the TV game a shot out of a combination of curiosity and boredom rather than any burning desire to share his considerable baseball wisdom.
“I’ve seen a lot of ex-teammates and former ballplayers who have taken into that role to keep busy,’’ Martinez told me in October 2013. “I’ve seen Kevin Millar do it, and of course I’m not going to do it like Millar” — Martinez paused to laugh — “but I’ve seen Dennis Eckersley, I’ve seen John Smoltz, I’ve seen Barry Larkin, I’ve seen how well they’ve taken to the role, and I figure I could consider it.”
Turns out he took to it exceptionally well. It’s hard to fathom that Martinez, who spent seven extraordinary seasons with the Red Sox and will be enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame this summer, could ever be as excellent in his second career as he was in his transcendent first. But he can still be very, very good.
Martinez, who owns a sharp and nuanced sense of humor in his second language, quickly mastered the difficult skill of making cogent points in a brief amount of time. He was the breakout star of TBS’s playoff coverage in 2013, and was even better last October. So Monday’s announcement that he is joining the MLB Network — which employs Millar and Smoltz — as an analyst this season was a pleasant revelation.
A pleasant revelation also happens to be how he would describe his experiences as an analyst so far.
“I am enjoying working on TV, at least for the time I’ve done it on TBS, a lot more than I thought,’’ he said Monday. “It’s a lot of hard work. There’s a lot of analysis that goes on behind doors. But I enjoy it because it gets me analyzing players and I love doing that. I love looking at the players, looking at the games, looking at the situations. You learn so much as well and not only that, you’re kind of learning to build a new career for yourself.”
Martinez won’t be as familiar a presence on the network as Dan Plesac or Harold Reynolds. He primarily will appear on “MLB Tonight” and occasionally appear on other studio shows, such as “Intentional Talk” with Millar. Martinez will make at least two appearances on the network in April, including pregame coverage of the Red Sox-Yankees game April 10.
“I’ve had a lot of help from the people I work with,’’ he said. “They have been really patient, really generous as far as being with me and teaching me the right things to do, and also very efficient as far as making it easy for me and getting all the data and all the information that I need. I feel a little bit more comfortable every time I go out. I feel like I have progressed a little bit, but I have so much to learn in this field.”
‘Draft’ a hit series
Perhaps there are occasional exceptions, but the perspective from this viewer’s La-Z-Boy has been confirmed time and time again: The most entertaining and engaging programming on the NFL Network is produced or has a direct tie to NFL Films.
That includes the unheralded but compelling “Caught in the Draft” series, which begins its second season on the network April 2 and runs each Thursday thereafter leading up to the NFL Draft, save for the April 29 finale, which airs on a Wednesday, the day before the draft begins.
The five-part series looks back on previous drafts in decade increments — this year’s featured flashbacks are the 1965, ’75, ’85, ’95, and 2005 drafts.
That ’95 edition, titled “Expansion,” should be of particular fascination to Patriots fans. Ty Law was their first pick that year, while Curtis Martin was stolen in the third round. A Hall of Famer and a potential Hall of Famer? Not a bad day’s work.
The ’85 edition also has Foxborough connections, though not in as fulfilling a way. That episode, titled “Schemes and Dreams,” will focus on the trade Niners boss Bill Walsh pulled off with the Patriots to acquire their first-round pick and select Mississippi Valley State receiver Jerry Rice.
The twist in the episode is that Rice may not have been the 49ers’ initial target. According to then-Bengals coach Sam Wyche, the Niners were frantically trying to get into position to draft University of Miami receiver Eddie Brown, who went to Cincinnati with the No. 13 pick, three selections before the Niners apparently “settled” for Rice.
The NFL’s decision to suspend its local television blackout policy for the 2015 season was overdue. The policy, which determined that if a game wasn’t sold out 72 hours before kickoff then it would not be televised locally, was implemented in the 70s, a comparatively archaic era when teams’ revenue was far more dependent upon ticket sales than it is today. Not a single game was blacked out during the 2014 season, and it occurred just twice in 2013. The Patriots have not had a local blackout since Dec. 26, 1993, when the Patriots beat the Colts, 38-0, in front of 26,571 fans.
WEEI (93.7) and Boston Spirit magazine will host a Hot Stove Baseball Panel at the gay-oriented Cathedral Station Sports Bar and Pub Sunday at 3 p.m. Herald columnist Steve Buckley will moderate the panel, which will include Red Sox EVP/COO Sam Kennedy and WEEI personalities Lou Merloni, John Tomase, and Rob Bradford
It’s too bad Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino, peeved at 98.5 the Sports Hub’s highly rated “Felger and Massarotti” troll-fest for howling that he wants to see Mookie Betts traded for Cole Hamels, decided to pass on an opportunity to go on the program. It would have been fascinating to see if Felger in particular would have challenged Victorino or turtled Claude Lemieux-style as he did when frequent piñata Mike Cameron was greeted like a long-lost friend on the program in 2010.