Thursday, June 4, 2009

Yanks Roll, But Why Burnett's Head?

Yankees 8, Rangers 6. Chien-Ming Wang clearly isn't all the way back yet, but a five-run 5th inning helps. Two out of three from the surprising Texas Rangers, who are leading the American League Western Division.

But A.J. Burnett has been suspended 6 games for throwing close to, but not hitting, the Rangers' Nelson Cruz. This after Vicente Padilla twice hit Mark Teixeira earlier in the same game. Padilla was not warned, nor tossed, nor suspended, nor even fined.

Yet for throwing inside but not hitting Cruz, Burnett gets suspended 6 games? Even if that's only one start, how is that fair? I know the Yankees are rolling, but why is MLB discpline czar (and former Astro and Yank 1st baseman and Yank GM) Bob Watson making Burnett's head roll?

If Padilla is let off the hook for hitting the same player twice and Burnett is suspended for 6 games for throwing close to a batter, then something is very wrong.

I'm not saying that Bob Watson should be kinder to the team that got him his World Series ring. (As Yankee GM in 1996. Come to think of it, he didn't win a Pennant as a player in Houston, but did win one with the Yankees in 1981.)

But I am saying that, as a former hitter (and a good one, too), he should ask what he'd rather face: Getting hit with 2 pitches or almost getting hit with 1. And that he should base his disciplinary decisions on that choice.

How about this: In 1965, Giants pitcher Juan Marichal, batting against the Dodgers, claimed to be provoked by catcher John Roseboro throwing the ball back to pitcher Sandy Koufax so that it hit Marichal's ear. Words were exchanged, then Marichal repeatedly tried to hit Roseboro on the head with his bat. He got him enough times to open a two-inch gash on Roseboro's scalp.

When National League President Warren Giles reviewed the situation, he suspended Marichal for 8 games -- in other words, 2 starts. I looked it up: The Giants ended up splitting the 2 games where his spot in the rotation would have fallen. And the Giants lost the Pennant by 2 games, so that may have made the difference. (Marichal was also fined $1,750 -- or $11,800 in today's money, but a much bigger proportion of a player's salary back then.)

In a fit of rage, Marichal may have thrown away a Pennant, and appeared to have thrown away what should have been a sure election to the Hall of Fame until Roseboro publicly forgave him. That was 8 games. A.J. Burnett didn't even hit a batter, only came close... 6 games. Vicente Padilla actually does hit a player, twice... not even thrown out of the game he's in, and no suspension and no fine (so far).

Someone want to explain to me why "the Yankees always get help from the umpires and league officials?" Obviously, they don't.

By the way, I'm still mad, 26 years later, about AL President (and former Yankee GM!) Lee MacPhail overturning both the rule and the umpiring crew that correctly called George Brett out in the Pine Tar Game.


Anyway, Texas goes out, Tampa Bay comes in. Bring on the Ray-volution. How's that going, by the way? Huh? Rays fans? Helloooooooo? Are you there? How's the Ray-volution going?

I guess the Rays weren't a fraud, like I said all last year. Instead, they're a fluke, 2008's version of the '05 White Sox, the '06 Tigers and the '07 Rockies. At least the ChiSox actually won their World Series.

The Mets got swept in Pittsburgh. This is a story from 2009. Not 1992. Not 1979. Not 1971.

Where's Rick Pitino when the Mets need him? "Barry Bonds is not walking through that door. Bobby Bonilla's not walking through that door. Dave Parker's not walking through that door. Bill Madlock's not walking through that door. Willie Stargell's not walking through that door. Roberto Clemente certainly isn't walking through that door!"

As the legendary Pirate broadcaster Bob "the Gunner" Prince would have said, "The Buccos had 'em all the way."

This would not have pleased my Grandma, who would have been 85 years old today had she lived. She would have hated the way the Mets are playing lately. But she would have loved Citi Field.

Now she gets to watch her teams, in the various sports she likes (including Saturday's Belmont Stakes), from the ultimate skybox. Where the peanuts are always salty, the hot dogs are always properly steamed, and the beer is always cold. Don't listen to those polka guys who sing "In Heaven, There Is No Beer."

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