Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Pedro Martinez's beef with Mike Piazza covered family honor, a whole lot of money, and camp drama

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- [Narrator] Mike Piazza and Pedro Martinez

were teammates to start their pro careers

and ended up teammates again near the end.

In between, they had beef.

Messy, public, slightly violent beef.

And it wasn't just the two of them.

(soft music)

- In the late '80s, the Los Angeles Dodgers

opened MLB's first ever academy

in the Dominican Republic: Campo Las Palmas.

There they developed their prized Dominican

pitching prospect, a teenager named Ramon Martinez

as well as a large roster of campers

that included his younger, shorter,

and less heralded brother, Pedro,

and, oddly, an American kid.

That was Mike Piazza whose multimillionaire father

had called in favors from his old friend,

Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda to get his unscouted son

picked in the sixty-second round of the MLB draft.

A stipulation of Piazza's LA contract

was that he learned to play catcher,

and that's what he tried to do

at Las Palmas despite not fitting in.

- [Piazza] I didn't speak any Spanish,

all the kids were all Latin.

- [Narrator] He caught for pitchers like

the Martinez brothers for six weeks

until he claimed he had food poisoning,

went home for Christmas, and didn't return.

If you've ever been to summer camp before,

you've met that kid, or you've been that kid.

Ramon Martinez soon became a star in the majors

while the younger Pedro and Piazza

rose up through the minors.

By 1993, Pedro had joined Ramon

on the Dodger pitching staff, albeit in a lesser role,

and Piazza was their catcher.

His catching was by all accounts, including this one

from Pedro's autobiography, pretty bad.

But Piazza was such a powerful hitter that it didn't matter.

After the '93 season, the Dodgers traded Pedro

to Montreal for Delino Deshields.

Bad, bad trade.

While Pedro blossomed as a starter for the Expos,

Ramon and Piazza remained a battery in LA.

Ramon complained some about his catcher's defense,

but Piazza hit brilliantly enough

to become a perennial all-star.

In '94, when Pedro faced his old team

for the first time, Piazza homered off him.

In '95, Ramon pitched his only career no-hitter,

and Piazza caught it.

In July '96, Piazza caught Pedro for the sixth inning

of their first all-star game together.

A month later, Ramon and Pedro did something

the extremely close brothers had always dreaded:

pitch against one another.

Ramon got the 2-1 victory thanks to

back-to-back homers from Piazza and Eric Karros.

Pedro had, by this point, far surpassed his older brother.

And before the 1998 season, he signed a six-year,

75 million dollar deal with the Boston Red Sox.

The biggest contract in MLB history, but not for long.

The beef's almost ready to come out of the oven.

Can you smell it?

So, March of 1998 was a weird, moody time

for Mike Piazza and the Dodgers.

Piazza was entering the final year of his contract

and expecting a huge extension

that the Dodgers kept putting off.

In fact, he was eyeing the biggest deal in baseball history.

Pedro Martinez, who came to visit Ramon

at spring training, heard rumors that Piazza

said the following about Pedro's record-setting deal.

"If that little s**t got all that money,

what would they have to pay me?"

Meanwhile, Ramon got into a heated war

with the New York Mets.

He hit a couple Mets batters

in a Florida spring-training game,

and New York pitcher Brain Bohannon retaliated

by plunking him right back.

Dodgers manager Bill Russell pledged that Martinez

would not forget this which read like a warning,

but a rotator cuff injury ended Ramon's season

just a few months later.

His career took a downturn just before

he had an opportunity to face the Mets again.

Any revenge would have to come by proxy, and it did.

By the time the regular season started, Piazza

and the Dodgers still hadn't figured out an extension.

He got booed a bit at home then called off

contract negotiations entirely.

A month later, the Dodgers traded

their disgruntled star to the Marlins.

Ramon bid him farewell with a final

passive-aggressive remark about his catching.

The Marlins had no intention of keeping Piazza.

After a week in Florida, Piazza had been

traded again to the Mets, who just a few days later,

had inter-league play scheduled against Pedro's Red Sox.

Pedro had by this point developed a bit of a reputation

for throwing inside and provoking conflict.

And on June 5th, 1998, Pedro Martinez stared down

from the mound at Mike Piazza.

There was one out in the first and a runner on second.

This Mets team had wronged his brother.

This hitter at the plate wasn't on great terms

with Ramon either and had bad-mouthed

Pedro's contract, so he hit him, right in the hand.

Not hard enough to break the hand,

but Piazza was hurt to the point

that he had to leave the game.

Pedro now freely admits the beating was intentional.

"I hated walking batters and

"was not going to waste one on Piazza.

"There just had to be a better way to get

"that little s**t to first base.

"Hmmm. Eureka!

I uncorked a fastball that hit his left hand."

But at the time, Pedro played innocent

and blamed Piazza, no friend of his,

for diving at a pitch inside.

But Piazza and Mets manager Bobby Valentine

both insinuated Martinez had meant to do it.

Martinez, who, again, did mean to do it,

whether or not he was saying so, went off.

Piazza responded with a public shot

at Martinez's record contract,

and Martinez came right back at Piazza's rich upbringing.

Speaking of money and contracts, Piazza did indeed break

Martinez's salary record in October of '98.

The Mets came through with the extension he'd wanted,

$91 million over seven years.

But, separated by AL and NL,

there was hardly more opportunity

for Piazza and Martinez to clash physically.

Pedro faced Piazza just once more

as a Red Sock, and it was an uneventful occasion

mostly noteworthy because both men

were returning from injury.

Piazza's injury, by the way, was the concussion

he suffered when Rogers Clemens beaned him in the head.

And Clemens got another shot at him, too,

without any retaliation.

Piazza wasn't done getting plunked, though.

Another Dominican Dodgers pitcher,

Guillermo Mota, drilled him in the back

during a spring training game in March of '02.

Piazza left the game but waited

in the dugout for Mota to walk by,

then grabbed him and got to shoving.

One year later, Mota did it again,

and this time, Piazza went ballistic,

dropped his bat and helmet,

and chased Mota off the mound, igniting a brawl.

He then went looking for Mota

in the Dodgers clubhouse after the game.

After watching Piazza war with his countryman,

Pedro couldn't resist throwing darts.

Then, a year and a half later, this happened.

Both players vowed to put the bad blood behind them.

Martinez said they were family now.

Piazza said he'd be Pedro's number one supporter,

and once again, they were a tandem,

albeit with diminishing frequency and productivity.

They'd separate again, but the beef didn't return,

unless you count Piazza homering twice off Pedro

in their last ever meeting.

And they'd retire maybe not as friends,

but at least on friendly terms.

In his 2016 Hall of Fame induction speech,

Piazza gave a shout-out to Pedro

who had been inducted the year prior.

- Tommy then sent me down to the Dominican

camp of the Dodgers Campos Las Palmas

in the Dominican Republic to pick up

valuable experience and communicate

with Spanish-speaking pitchers.

One happens to be here behind me, Pedro Martinez.



- That said, both Hall of Fame-ers wrote memoirs

after they retired, and both shed light on the beef.

That goofy Spanish you just heard Piazza speaking

is interesting in the context of his book.

He argues that MLB shouldn't cater

to Spanish-speaking players with interpreters

and other special considerations.

That the onus isn't on American players

to learn Spanish, it's on the Latin players

to learn English.

This clearly ties into another Piazza assertion

that during his career there was some kind of

weird Hispanic conspiracy against him,

almost like a secret brotherhood,

a Latin mafia type of thing.

Pedro's book doesn't talk about

any conspiracy against Piazza,

he just mentions repeatedly that

Piazza was a mediocre defensive catcher

which caused the initial problems between him and Ramon,

something Piazza acknowledges in his own book.

Martinez kinda insinuates Piazza may have been

a steroid user, but also reflects on

how hard a worker he was back at Las Palmas.

Piazza says Martinez was a "little prick"

when he joined the Dodgers,

but says he'd give him a hug now if he saw him.

And I think all of the above combined

in the right proportions at exactly

the right time made this beef happen.

Mike Piazza was the rich American kid

at the camp the Martinez brothers attended

in their home country.

He was the young hot shot whose catching frustrated Ramon

and who supposedly belittled Pedro

in pursuit of a record-breaking contract.

Pedro was an extremely loyal little brother

who didn't forget a grudge and had no qualms

about attacking his rivals, on the mound or off it.

They were fellow campers, then pro-teammates,

then opponents at a crucial juncture,

and through it all, these two Hall of Fame-ers

built a messy far-ranging web of beef, a beef web.

(soft music)

The Description of Pedro Martinez's beef with Mike Piazza covered family honor, a whole lot of money, and camp drama