"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Who’s Your Erratic #2 Starter?

A.J. Burnett had a terrific start last night, as if unaware that millions of people were completely freaked out about his ability to do so, and a few of the Yankee hitters recovered from Wednesday’s Cliff Lee-induced  trauma, and so New York beat Philly 3-1 to even the series. And yet, naturally, the first thing I want to write about is Pedro.

“I know they really wanna root for me,” said Pedro of Yankees fans, smiling in what appeared to be a zoot suit stolen from the Mighty Mighty Bosstones, shortly after (he claims) lecturing a man in the front row about using foul language in front of his daughter. “It’s just that I don’t play for the Yankees. That’s all. I’ve always been a good competitor, and they love that… You know, I’m a New Yorker as well, so – if I was on the Yankees, I’d be a king over here.”

He’s right, of course. Personally, I always appreciate athletes who understand that they’re also entertainers, and nobody gets that more than Pedro. He gets the fans, he gets the media, he plays his part with flair – he was a great villain; his ego is, to put it politely, healthy, but he’s backed it up often enough. By the end of 2003 I disliked him about as much as I’ve ever disliked a player (at least, a player who hadn’t committed some actual crime), but I’ve long since come around. It was seeing him on the Mets that mostly did it, watching him pitch smarter as he got slower, loved by the fans and his teammates no matter how often he was injured, and of course always good for a quote. And I suppose it was also realizing that he would be retiring soon, if not this year, and you won’t have Pedro to kick around anymore. I can’t wait for his Hall of Fame induction speech.

Pedro was going to be the story tonight no matter what he did, which is probably fine by him, and he pitched very well – but as far as the Yankees are concerned, the bigger news was A.J. Burnett’s excellent start. I think most fans knew he was capable of it, but didn’t dare to expect it. His curveball was a knockout punch, and he was refreshingly free of control issues: seven innings pitched, nine strikeouts, only two walks. There were moments in the game’s first half when he seemed like he might be teetering on the brink of chaos, but he never quite lost control: one second-inning run on a blooped ground-rule double and a single that probably should’ve been an E5 was all the Phillies got.

That was a good thing, too, since for the first chunk of the game, the Yankee bats were becalmed and the Stadium was way too quiet. Pedro and his sneaky stuff deserves the credit, but I wonder if he got any kind of assist from a Cliff Lee hangover. In the fourth inning, though, Mark Teixeira (it’s aliiiiiive!) whacked an 84 mph changeup over the right field fence to tie the game.

Hideki Matsui gave the Yankees the lead with another solo shot in the sixth, and I never call these things, but I have to say: I called that one. The Phillies got five-plus excellent innings and 90 pitches out of 2009 Pedro, against the Yankees no less, and I thought to ask for too much more than that was to push their luck.

Then in the seventh, a funny thing happened: Pedro Martinez stayed in the game. Stop me if you’ve heard this one. Even six years ago, everyone watching the ALCS at home knew that after about 100 pitches, give or take, Pedro’s effectiveness took a nosedive – as great as he was then, he didn’t have a ton of stamina. Everyone knew it, and everyone was screaming it at Grady Little’s impassive face on their TV, yet here we are many years and multiple Martinez surgeries later… I don’t mean to make too much of it, probably the Yankees win this one anyway, with that Burnett start and Mariano Rivera. It’s just that if you pulled some random casual baseball fan off the couch and put him or her in a dugout, this is probably the one mistake they would absolutely know not to make.

Anyway, the much-maligned Jerry Hairston Jr. singled, and Brett Gardner ran for him, advancing to third on Melky Cabrera’s single. Jorge Posada came up to pinch-hit, but we were all denied the drama of that matchup when Manuel finally strolled to the mound and summoned Chan Ho Park. Posada singled anyway; 3-1 Yankees. Derek Jeter then struck out on a foul bunt. That’s right, he was bunting with two on and no outs, Yanks up by two in the seventh, and he kept bunting with two strikes, and then he struck out on a foul bunt, and I don’t want to talk about it.

In other Bad-For-Baseball news, the umpires then blew a call when Johnny Damon’s line drive was called an out in the air, though it looked like in fact it had hit the ground before Ryan Howard caught it, and so Posada was called out too, doubled off. I have run out of umpire jokes. The Phillies got screwed the very next inning, when Chase Utley and his hair were called out at first to complete a DP against Mariano Rivera; it looked on replays like he was most likely safe. Ragging on the umps is an ancient and respected part of baseball tradition, but things are getting out of hand.

Mariano Rivera had a choppy eighth inning, but persevered, and the ninth was more like it. The Yankees now head to Philly, and to paraphrase Ol’ Blue Eyes, if you can’t hit a ton of home runs there you can’t hit a ton of home runs anywhere.

Discussion question: if you were picking a baseball-related Halloween costume, what would you pick? And is there any way to go as an umpire without being insensitive to the visually impaired?

Categories:  Bronx Banter  Emma Span

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1 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:04 am

[0] I'd love to go as Kent Tekulve..we have a similar build and I have a pair of very funky 70s-style sunglasses. Not sure where I can get a yellow Pirates uniform.

Repeated from other thread, am watching game on mlb.com now..I pity you people for having to put up with Joe & Timmah every game..Joe in particular has become truly awful.

2 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:13 am

Oh my god...WTF is "DJ Hero"?? Does FOX think that having some lame-ass remix of a Foreigner song is actually "hip"??

3 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:16 am

Happy morning in BB land!

I missed the first two innings entirely (my son's soccer game), then caught the third on the radio. I had my choice: John and Suzyn, or Miller and Morgan? I switched back and forth. Got home in time for the fourth, but I decided to watch computer-free. Missed the Bantering, but at the same time I think this way was easier on my kishkes (morning, thelarmis).

4 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:18 am

[1] I thought Joe and Tim were relatively inoffensive last night. It's quite possible that my brain has learned how to tune them out automatically. In fact, I think that's the explanation.

5 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:25 am

I don't think the Phillies really got screwed on the Utley call because if that play was replayed, interference would have been called. Victorino went so far out of the baseline to get Jeter, making that missed call the most obvious one of the night.

6 unmoderated   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:28 am

I had the same Pedro conversation last night. You are so right - he does get it. When he was pulled from the game and was walking back to the dugout, you saw a quick shot of a smile.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:28 am

The best baseball costume I ever saw someone wear was the MLB logo. He wore a white helmet, carried a white bat and painted his face white and then attached a blue and red painted piece of cardboard behind his head. It was genius.

8 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:35 am

[6] Yes, and he would have certainly been the King had he played in NY (Mets don't count).

[7] Awesome!

[4] Really, a valuable talent. I can't believe I prefer Sutcliffe to Joe & Timmah now..

9 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:36 am

Ugh, just saw the fake double play hit by Damon in the 7th..we wuz robbed yet again...

10 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:38 am

Now that I think about it, the Mets should probably feel slighted by Pedro's comments because as [8] joked, he was basically saying the Mets don't count.

11 williamnyy23   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:39 am

[9] Poor Jorge finally make a correct read on the bases and he still gets doubled off!! That could set him back for years.

12 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 30, 2009 7:43 am

[9] Hah!

I am so ready for Game 3 now..Butthead Hamels won't last 5 innings.

13 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Oct 30, 2009 8:01 am

And Mo Ks Stairs to end it! Great game, glad I could catch it tonight.

Matt Stairs..looks like either Martin Mull's lost brother or the guy who played Otis in "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer" (is that an obscure enough reference?)

14 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 8:10 am

[11] Ha-ha!

[8] True, but Sutcliffe was wearing thin last night, too.

15 Start Spreading the News   ~  Oct 30, 2009 8:25 am

I was at the game yesterday and when Pedro walked off the mound, I could swear he was soaking in the moment. He really seems like the smart player who knows his time is limited and just wants to enjoy what is left in his arm. He slowed down as he got near the dugout and was smiling. I think he was resisting the temptation to tip his cap. That or give us the "Jack MacDowell" -- roundhouse middle finger.

16 rbj   ~  Oct 30, 2009 8:49 am

As for the scariest Halloween costume, I suppose one could go as announcer/analyst Joe Morgan or Steve Philips. . . perhaps I would go as Kris Benson, but I would need some woman to go as his wife.

Great game last night.

17 Sliced Bread   ~  Oct 30, 2009 8:51 am

So, in Game 2 the Yanks didn't rough up Oscar the Grouch's eccentric cousin, Pedro the Hammock-wetter as much as they could have, but it was still good times as the mopey muppet was sent off to a restless sleep beneath the mango trees inside his loopy head.
The Pie Unit came up huge in his biggest night as a Yankee. Thank you, AJ.
But still no peaceful easy feelings in Yankeeland.
There's plenty of Gashouse Gorilla about these Phillies - see Madson hand-delivering that one-way ticket to the City of Brotherly Shove drilling Tex's leg in the 8th. Now the Series moves into that hostile cheesesteak stinkin' bandbox where Michael Vick used to bury his pitbulls.
If Girardi's clenched jaw, Jeter's brainfart bunt attempt, ARod's Statue of Futility moments, even Mo's "look, I'm still human" act didn't tell you the team is tight -- consider this: Kate Hudson has apparently gone into hiding! Eek! Was she at Game 2? Was that her in the gnome costume? or was she under that alien mask?
Bring on Halloween Game 3! I'm dressing up as an uptight and outta sight Andy Pettitte fan.

18 RagingTartabull   ~  Oct 30, 2009 9:21 am

my friends and I were actually going to go as Major League this Halloween, but I had to be the jerk who pulled out at the last minute (I just didn't have time to order an Indians cap. baseball pants, and an Eddie Harris t-shirt off this website we found). My two friends are still going as Rick Vaughn and Willie Mays Hayes though...so now I'm all pissy and jealous about it, even though I have no one to blame but myself.

19 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 9:30 am

Looking too far ahead and thinking outside the box, part 57:

If AJ pitches in Philly in game 5 and Molina starts, would it make sense to bat Molina, say, 6th to break up his and the pitcher's spot in the lineup?

20 Yankster   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:09 am

The best baseball costume by a country mile is to go as the The Furies from the Warriors. They're scary, they're an homage to the Yankees without actually wearing the logo, and they come from a great film which is being remade this year and will be released next, which will make anyone wearing the costume seem like cultural savant. Next year it will be too obvious....

21 BuckFoston   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:10 am

Man, if Pedro had been on the Yankees instead of the Sox, I can only imagine what Sox fans would've said about him or nicknamed him. Yankee fans would've made him Jesus to Mo's God, I wonder who would've been the Holy Ghost?

22 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:10 am

[19] Yes on the not having Molina and AJ back-to-back. No on hitting Molina 6th; I'd hit him 7th. Jeter-Damon-Tex-ARod-Swisher-Cano-Molina-Melky-AJ.

No offense to Melky, but, um, yuck. Losing Matsui for the pitcher is bad enough; losing Posada for Molina is horrible. If AJ is going to have Molina catch him, I think Girardi needs to use Gaudin/the pen in Game 4, CC in game 5 (and if it gets there), hold AJ back for Game 6.

Speaking of using Gaudin in Game 4 - won't Sunday be AJ's throw day? In theory, he could give an inning of relief, right?

23 a.O   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:11 am

[17] I agree, these guys look ridiculously tight. Maybe things will be a bit better now they averted the home sweep.

And boy, it's like everybody has suddently decided to start swinging at everything. Everyone is trying to hit that homerun. They've got to start getting a little more selective.

24 BuckFoston   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:12 am

I always liked my wife's costume 2 years ago. It's not baseball related but I thought it was clever. She attached a bunch of letter "P"'s to her clothes and painted a black eye. Black-eyed P's.

25 ms october   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:12 am

[0] great stuff emma

[11] that was my main thought after the whole thing settled down - poor jorgie can't win for losing, but that was a huge hit he got as well to get the lead up to 2

[4] good tuning out work - because i found them very annoying last night

[19] i was thinking that the other day as well - i would not bat molina 8/aj 9 if we are stuck with them in the nl park

26 ms october   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:14 am

[22] i am not emotionally stable enough for aj to give an inning in relief

27 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:14 am

[19] [22] I think I said this last night, but I really think it all turns on Game 3. If the Yanks win Game 3, using Gaudin/the pen in Game 4 is probably not an issue, in which case AJ pitches game 6. If the Yanks lose Game 3, the pressure to use CC on short rest in Game 4 will be immense - and then we get AJ and Pettitte on short rest as well. I'm not sure I want that.

28 a.O   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:19 am

I cannot post this URL enough:


29 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:20 am

Intuitively it does seem better to break up the very weak hitters, but here's a different perspective: don't we want the better hitters all bunched up as much as possible, to cluster hits together? You get more runs that way, obviously.
It's hard to shake the feeling that it's just deadly to have Molina and Burnett bat back-to-back, but I think that's the way I'd arrange it anyway. (I mean, really I'd let Posada catch, but if I had that line-up to work with I would do it that way.)

I bet Gaudin starts game five, though. (I'd let AJ do it, but I expect Joe won't.)

30 Just Fair   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:27 am

I like this costume. Avoid if you are PC or easily offended. : D

31 lroibal   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:31 am

I find it hard to forgive him for dibbling Zim's head, but he did expose himself when he smiled like a cheshire cat walking off the mound last night. He plays the villain like a fox.

Congrats to AJ! ..Masterful.

32 rbj   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:36 am

[20] Re. . .making. . . The. . . Warriors. . .?

God damn you Hollywood, God damn you to Hell. There is no reason on earth to remake that movie. It's a classic. I don't even like the dvd that has the cartoon fade outs.

What's next, redoing Star Wars so that Han doesn't shoot first? Oh, wait.

But given that so many in Hollywood support the confessed child rapist Roman Polanski, it shouldn't be a shock.

Pettitte for the 2-1 advantage tomorrow night. It'll be a spooktacular game.

33 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:43 am

[29] Hmm. Start CC on short rest, have Gaudin/the pen pitch game 5 . . . I like that idea!

And while Melky >> Molina, for sure, is there really much difference to which one bats 7th and which one bats 8th?

34 Pete   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:47 am

[21] Nick Swisher - this month, anyway. :)

35 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:50 am

[19] [29] The matchup matters too. I read this morning at RiverAveBlues that Lee has never pitched on short rest in his MLB career. If Manuel uses him in Game 4, Pedro can't possibly pitch Game 5 on short rest. If Happ starts Game 5, and so does AJ, using Molina might not be too horrible; for a catcher, "Molina "hits" LHP (career .259/.306/.384) ok.

36 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 10:57 am

Shaun, (a) it probably doesn't make much difference whether Melk and Molina bat 7 and 8 or 8 and 7. My thought was really that our 5, 6, 7 batters are pretty good at getting on base, and you'd definitely rather have Melky up with those runners on than Molina. And (b) I don't think there's any way Lee starts Game Four. If Manuel were seriously considering it, Lee wouldn't have pitched the ninth inning Wednesday.

37 Pete   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:01 am

[35] Nice that we have the horses we do, eh?

38 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:03 am

[35] et al. I was also thinking that by breaking up the C and P, the inevitable (?) double switch could be more interesting, as there is a better chance to have the pitcher go into a spot that had already batted (the catcher at 6 or 7) and never have to be PH for. I think that works anyway.

[29] I had thought about that, but since the entire team seems to be scuffling (except Jeter), I look at spots 6-9 as largely interchangeable. Thus, Molina batting 6th or 7th is not breaking up the good hitters, it's just rearranging slumping hacktastic hitters.

I was also playing with some crazy idea of starting Hairston or Hinske at C and batting him second. Then removing him in the bottom of the first for Molina, who would then not bat until an inning or so later than he usually would (his first AB might be the 4th inning). In this way, you could probably get 6 or even 7 innings out of AJ with Molina at C and only one AB, by which time it is likely that AJ has been PH for. If Molina bats more than a couple of times in this arrangement, then the Yankees have likely scored a good number of runs, so it may not matter.

It's just a crazy thought.

39 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:04 am

[36] Well, manuel is a bit crazy. But I think your right...he's not going to use Lee on short rest unless the situation is dire.

40 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:13 am

[38] Good point about double-switching. But I don't think it's smart to make the line-up on the assumption that slumping batters will keep slumping. Some of those guys will emerge from their slumps during the Series, and Melky is a whole lot more likely to do so than Molina is to emerge from his seven year slump.

Starting a pinch hitter is an interesting idea! Has any manager ever done that? I guess the problem is that you're using up a good bat in a very low-leverage situation.

Slump. Slump.
What an excellent word.

41 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:15 am

[40] Has any manager ever done that?

I have a feeling that earl Weaver did something like this, maybe when the DH rule was first introduced (which led to a change in the rule, maybe?). Whomever, I have a sneaking suspicion that I got this idea from someone.

42 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:19 am

[40] Aha! Not identicle, but I may have been thinking about...

During the month of September, 1980, Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver inserted a pitcher into the DH slot but would use a hitting specialist (such as Benny Ayala or Terry Crowley) to pinch-hit when the designated hitter's first turn came up. There was a game on September 17, 1980, during which the Orioles and the Detroit Tigers both used the short-lived strategy. [9] (Note: Due to the loophole taken advantage of by Earl Weaver, there was a rule change shortly thereafter that states the DH must come to bat at least once, unless the opposing team changes pitchers.


43 ms october   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:21 am

[38] extra credit creative points for you mp on starting a ph - i am impressed

you are a step ahead of me today - i also think the ph double swith comes into efefct and that is another reason to break them up - course this is all mute if aj doesn't pitch game 5

44 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:21 am

[42] I believe that's pronounced "identical."

45 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 11:41 am

I feel dumb. I don't understand the point of Weaver's tactic. What was the advantage??

46 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 30, 2009 12:25 pm

[36] An excellent point on having Melky up with runners on base/in scoring position, instead of Molina. Though if Molina hits 7th, that eventually becomes Posada in late innings with runners on . . .

I think that Manuel's decision to leave Lee in for the 9th on Wednesday night had nothing to do with using Lee later, but rather because Manuel is even more scared of his bullpen than Girardi is, even with a 6 run lead. I could see him thinking, "Well if Lee comes out, and I put Madson in, and he gets into trouble . . . Who do I go to? Eyre, if a lefty is up, but otherwise . . . Lidge? Screw it, Lee pitches the 9th!"

That said, I agree that it would be a silly move to start Lee on short rest in Game 4. But Mike Carminati used to call him Charlie "I Need a Friggin'" Manuel, and I feel confident in saying that, if Mike did that, he probably felt very justified. Thus, he might very well do something crazy.

47 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 12:29 pm

[45] Actually, neither do I, upon re-reading the paragraph. I found this explanation on anotehr site;

"Though, in the early years of the DH rule, some AL managers would try to use it as a tactical advantage by penciling in the previous day’s pitcher, and then pinch-hitting with the "real" DH batter when he first came to bat. This way, the manager could choose between a right- or left-handed batter to get the platoon advantage if, perhaps, the starter had been pulled early from the game. Earl Weaver was reportedly the most aggressive at using this trick. After a few years, the DH rule was modified to stop such nonsense, and the original DH in the lineup must bat at least once (unless injured)."

48 RIYank   ~  Oct 30, 2009 1:53 pm

Oh, okay, now I get it. That's a pretty slim advantage!

49 monkeypants   ~  Oct 30, 2009 2:03 pm

[48] Yeah. It sounds mostly like Earl sticking it to the league for making up such a clumsy rule.

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