Last weekend Red Sox great Pedro Martinez was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. He was a fan favorite in Boston while he was he was a player and thrilled super fans when he returned to Boston and took a job with the organization in 2013. He was a dominant pitcher — baffling batters with his blazing fastball all while seeming to enjoy his own private joke at the expense of his opponents. When he pitched it was always must-see TV and in top form, he was almost unhittable. His career took place entirely within the “steroid era,” making it that much more astonishing that he was able to perform so well against batters who may have been on performance enhancing drugs. He had some low moments as well — manager Grady Little failed to get him off the mound and Pedro was responsible for four runs in the 8th inning of the 7th game of the ALCS against the Yankees in 2003. He also acted a bit like a petulant teenager when the Red Sox added another ace to the team to secure the 2004 World Series win. After that amazing season Pedro left Boston, bringing his talents to the Mets and then the Phillies for a few unremarkable years before retirement.
Like Pedro, Vice President Joe Biden came to prominence in another era. He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1972 and before being sworn in his wife and young daughter were killed in a car accident while out Christmas shopping. His sons were badly injured and as a now single father, Biden then shouldered the tremendous burden of raising two children in Delaware while working in Washington, D.C. The Senate was a different institution then, probably best described as clubby — nearly all white, all male (with no women serving in the Senate with Biden until 1978) and with no need for a filter. Biden was a product of the Senate — and a creature of it as well — popular among his colleagues and well respected in Washington circles. He was the go-to talking head on foreign relations and was believed to have been picked as a running mate by Barack Obama for his deep international experience.
Like Pedro, Biden has had low moments — and has behaved more like he was elected in the ‘70s than in this decade. A quick Google search of “Biden inappropriate comment” yields a plethora of instances where the Vice President did or said something way outside the buttoned up norms of today. Some are hilarious, some are naughty and some make you wonder how he has managed to escape the ire of leading women’s organizations who would have excoriated anyone else for the same language.
Now one of the most interesting storylines developing in this presidential campaign is “What will Joe do?” If he joins the race, he will be navigating some difficult political waters as he will need to put together support from various factions in the Democratic Party who have not joined the Clinton bandwagon and who have not always been thrilled with the Obama administration. Being the sitting Vice President can be an electoral blessing or a curse and distancing himself from the administration he has been part of could create a whole new blooper reel for his opponents to use against him. I can hardly predict the future but a Biden run seems more like Grady leaving Pedro in too long than a winning campaign for the White House. If he retires now, he’ll still be a hall of famer.