"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Don’t Mess With Texas

On the one hand, I love the playoffs.  After living and dying through 162 games, your reward as a fan is to watch your team as one of eight — and now four — still in contention for the world championship.  On the other hand, I hate the playoffs.  My TiVo is suddenly not good enough, so I have to plan my world around a baseball game being played three thousand miles away.  Heaven forbid I should miss a single pitch.  How bad is it?  A couple days ago my wife suggested that we schedule a date night for next Thursday.  The good husband answered quickly, “Sure, sounds good.”  But the bad husband inside was secretly calculating: Friday, Saturday, off-day Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, off-day Thursday… No problem! Look away.  I am hideous.

A.J. Burnett is also hideous, but rumor has it he’ll be pitching in this series, a fact that by itself gives the Texas Rangers a pretty good shot at advancing to the World Series.  The more I think about that, the more I think about belt-high fastballs and looping curve balls and line drives back through the box, the more worried I get.  If I were in charge, I’d pitch Burnett against Cliff Lee in Game 3, essentially conceding that game to the Rangers.  As the rotations stand now, it almost looks like Girardi is conceding both Games 3 and 4, meaning that Sabathia had better win the opener and Phil Hughes had better win Game 2.

What if they don’t?  What if Josh Hamilton comes to Yankee Stadium and remembers that Home Run Derby in the old Stadium?  What if Elvis Andrus gets on base seven or eight times and steals fourteen or sixteen bases?  What if Ian Kinsler plays like Ian Kinsler again?  What if Cliff Lee gets to pitch twice?

If you want to know what I really think, the Yankees will win this series, but it won’t take a miracle for the Rangers to win.  I just hope that when I’m sitting in the movie theater on Thursday night, I’m still looking forward to the World Series.

Categories:  Hank Waddles  Playoffs  Yankees

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1 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 15, 2010 9:48 am

I think the miracle would be if AJ pitches like Game 2 WS. I know I have more data to the contrary, but I'm dabbling in the futility of hope. You know, the overcoming of adversity and stuff. In this case screwing his head on right. Talent, Burnett has.

I feel like Charlie Brown insisting that Lucy won't pull the football at the kick-off. Good Grief!!

2 seamus   ~  Oct 15, 2010 9:52 am

I get the concern with AJ but I'm not clear on how Girardi is conceding game 3 by going with Pettitte.

Nice timing on the date night! This is the ALCS so it's time to get serious!

3 rbj   ~  Oct 15, 2010 9:56 am

Interesting idea for game 3. Andy's experienced, so I think CC, Phil & Andy can win the non Lee games, maybe throwing bad AJ against good Cliff is a good idea.

But hey, it's Friday and there's a Yankee game on!

4 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 15, 2010 9:56 am

[2] I think Hank was saying that Girardi could just put AJ in the 3 slot against Lee, hereby conceding game 3.

5 Yankee Mama   ~  Oct 15, 2010 9:59 am

I reread and yes, it does sound like we're automatically conceding game 3 going with Pettitte. Truth is, you never know.

6 OsRavan   ~  Oct 15, 2010 10:42 am

I have to disagree with both Hank and Yankee Mama.

Conceding a game would be to mess our entire rotation up so other guys wind up pitching on short rest besides Sabathia ... and we would do that why? To throw burnett against lee because burnett is going to "lose anyway." *THAT* is conceding a game. And even more worrisome about that action is the yankees would be sending the message "we cant beat lee anyway so this is a throw away game" which would have serious consequences for when Lee pitches in game *7*. Just pause for a second and thing about what "conceding" game 3 before they get on the field will do for the teams mentality and ability to win a game 7.

Likewise that scenario means Andy is pitching on short rest in game 7... and avoiding that was the whole point why burnett is here to begin with. If you are going to pitch with Burntt in game 3, you might as well just not pitch Burnett at all and let Andy and Hughes go on short rest. The reason Burnett is here is precisely because Girardi doesnt think Andy and Hughes... one for health reasons the other for age reasons... can go on 3 days rest. And frankly I agree with him.

How many times have we seen pitchers blow up cause their rest schedule was messed with? CC is valuable precisely because he is one of those rare exceptions.

So yeah. For all of the above reasons I can not think of a *worse* move we could possibly make than to pitch burnett in game three. To sum up my argument is that it:

1) Is conceding we lost the game which you never want to do.
2) Is conceding we can't beat Lee which likely costs us the series.
3) Significantly casts into doubt our ability to win a game 7 which would be a rested Lee (whom Girardi just declared the yanks couldn't beat in game 3) versus a short rest Andy.
4) Just have to repeat this... you NEVER "concede a game" in the playoffs. EVER!!!!!

I will point out a few final thoughts for the complainers/worriers/

1) Andy is not as good a pitcher as Lee. But as we have seen countless times if he has his stuff he is perfectly capable of going toe to toe with the best in the game. We have seen that from 96 on down to last weeks NLDS. Sure odds probably favor Lee. But none of us should count out either Andy's ability to match Lee *OR* our hitters ability to 'get to' ace SP. I mean come on. How many times have the yankees run a star SP's pitch count up and got him out of the game?

2) While I grant their fourth starter is no where near as weak as Burnett... Texas still has to start one.

3) Burnett.. while it is unlikely... is *capable* of pitching a shutout game.

4) Most importantly of all this is a 7 game series and this is a 25 man team. Or to be blunt. I doubt Burnett is going to be the reason we lose the series though he could contribute to it.

5) I refuse.. unlike many fans ive seen lately... I REFUSE to accept that Lee is some sort of unbeatable pitching god. In fact... if we want our yankees to win the WS this year at some point they are going to have to show they can beat a Lee or a Halladay. If we can't we don't deserve to be world champions. I have every confidence that if Andy can keep us close to Texas the Yankees have decent odds of winning those games.

Sorry for the long rant but the "concede a game" mentality always steams me up.

7 Shaun P.   ~  Oct 15, 2010 10:51 am

[0] [6] Game 4 is AJ vs Tommy Hunter.

Hunter struck out 68 in 128 innings (4.78 K/9), while walking 33 (2.25 BB/9), and allowing 21 home runs (1.48 HR/9). Though his ERA was just 3.73, SIERA says it should have been 4.78. He's also a righty, so no advantage in YS2.0.

As bad as AJ was this year, he struck out 145 in 186.7 innings (6.99 K/9), while walking 78 (3.76 BB/9), and allowing 25 home runs (1.21 HR/9). Though his ERA was 5.26, SIERA says it should have been 4.42.

Sorry Hank, I understand your worries, but I just don't see Game 4 an automatic loss. AJ can absolutely outpitch Hunter.

(I'm not sure I see Game 3 as an automatic loss either, because at some point, Lee is going to come out and the Rangers bullpen is going to come in (we hope).)

8 Hank Waddles   ~  Oct 15, 2010 11:01 am

On an unrelated note, I also think the tomahawk chop is ridiculous and Chief Wahoo is the most offensive logo in sports. Discuss.

9 Emma Span   ~  Oct 15, 2010 11:29 am

Dude, I would never even CONSIDER planning a date night when there was a playoff game. Totally legitimate. You have all winter for date nights!

[8] Shhh...

10 51cq24   ~  Oct 15, 2010 1:02 pm

we never conceded games against pedro, and he was the best pitcher i've ever seen. anyway, if you throw aj against lee in game 3, doesn't that also mean "conceding" game 7 if it comes to that? that doesn't seem like such a great idea to me.

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