I will start with a confession: I now love A.J. Burnett. I love his sizzling fastball and knee-buckling curveball and disappearing changeup. I love his sneer and his stare and his cocky glare.
I used to hate all of it when he handled my team – one, two, three – spit and walked off the mound like he owned the world. A guy like Burnett is easy to hate when he’s on the other side, but I find him irresistible now that he’s with us.
I officially fell for him last night in a bar. The music was loud, but the shouts were even louder when the news rolled across the screen: “ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the New York Yankees and free agent A.J. Burnett have reached a preliminary agreement on a five-year, $82.5 million contract.”
The barroom cheered and cheered and cheered again.
But some people were not cheering. Those people look at Burnett and see everything that can go wrong. They see his past injuries and the length and size of his contract and some other things that I can’t even understand right now because I’m in love with a talented pitcher who can get batters out.
That’s why I look at Burnett and see everything that can go right. I see the blazers and the benders and the Bugs Bunny changes. I see the frustrated Sox and Rays and Jays and O’s who will now hate Burnett as much as I used to.
I see a beautiful baseball summer with A.J. in a rotation with CC and Chien-Ming and Joba and maybe Andy, too.
And then I remember the true love this game can bring when you believe in the promise of the future and not just some possibilities drawn from the past.