"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

What Up, Duke?

As I mentioned yesterday in the comments section, I’m excited to see El Duque return to New York. In a way, it’s actually a relief to me that he’s on the Mets. This way I can enjoy watching him perform without being too emotionally invested in the outcome. I like Buster Olney’s take on the deal:

The best possible situation you can have with Orlando Hernandez at this stage in his career, a high-ranking American League executive said last night, is when you don’t have to count on him.

“The White Sox played it exactly right last year,” the exec said, “because they brought him along and he was kind of the extra guy in the rotation — they didn’t absolutely need him to win. They went into the postseason, and he wasn’t filling a crucial role; he was just another guy on their pitching staff. And then, in the playoff series against Boston, they brought him [in] when it wasn’t make or break, and he was tremendous.”

…There will be issues with El Duque: He gets hurt a lot, he is temperamental and he is high-maintenance. But if the Mets make the playoffs and face a big moment in October, there is nobody stronger mentally than Hernandez.

By the way, I know I’ve mentioned this before, but if you are interested in Duque, do yourself a favor and pick up “The Duke of Havana,” by Steve Fainaru and Ray Sanchez. It’s not necessarily a great baseball book–it actually reads more like a Graham Greene novel than anything else–but it is an absorbing account of Cuban baseball and El Duque’s life and career.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver