Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Cancel the A.J. Burnett Show

The Carol Burnett Show was funny. The A.J. Burnett Show isn't funny anymore, and it's time to cancel it. Or, at least, for it to "go on hiatus" until next February, when spring training starts.

On a night when ex-Yankee manager Buck Showalter and his Baltimore Orioles did the Pinstripes a favor, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 4-0, the Yanks fell behind the Pesky Blue Jays 7-0 in Toronto, with A.J. getting rocked, allowing 7 runs and not even getting out of the 3rd inning.

Despite 5 2/3 scoreless innings from Jonathan Albaledejo, Dustin Moseley, David Robertson, Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin, and homers by Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira, the Yankees could not complete the comeback, 7-5 -- practically a repeat of their Friday and Saturday performances against The Scum.

Speaking of whom, Boston also won, so the Yankees' Magic Number to clinch a Playoff berth remains 1, but the Rays' Magic Number to win the AL East is now 6. So if the Yankees win 4 of their last 5, the Rays can still win the Division if they win 5 of their last 7: Their 5 wins + 1 Yankee loss = Rays, AL East Champs.

That would be competitively tolerable, but emotionally unacceptable.

CC Sabathia goes tonight. Wednesday, Andy Pettitte. Thursday is a travel day. Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Boston, the pitchers are not yet set.

If there's still a chance on Sunday for the Yanks to win the Division, do you pitch CC that day, on 4 days' rest? Or do you hope for the best from someone else, and save CC for Game 1 of the ALDS, either at home to Texas (if the Yanks win the Division anyway) or at Minnesota (if the Wild Card)?

Whichever it is, I don't want to see A.J. pitch again this season. Let him work out his problems in next year's spring training. Or, if someone offers us a nice deal in the interim, trade him.

True, with Andy Pettitte a 50-50 bet as to retiring, giving up Burnett would leave the Yankees with 2 rotation holes to fill. I'm comfortable with going into the 2011 season with Sabathia (20 wins going into tonight), Phil Hughes (18), Moseley, Ivan Nova, and one as yet undetermined. (Talking Andy, who'd turn 39 during the season, into one more year? Signing Cliff Lee as a free agent, even if we only get 3 seasons out of him? Maybe the return of Joba Chamberlain to the rotation?) The Yankees do have options; A.J. Burnett may no longer be one of them.

*

I really shouldn't have used the word "bet." It was 90 years ago today, September 28, 1920, that 8 Chicago White Sox were suspended for their role in fixing the previous season's World Series.

For first baseman Arnold "Chick" Gandil, it didn't matter, as he'd already retired after the 1919 World Series. For infielder Fred McMullin, it didn't matter, as he was a reserve anyway. But it mattered for left fielder "Shoeless" Joe Jackson, center fielder Oscar "Happy" Felsch, shortstop Charles "Swede" Risberg, third baseman George "Buck" Weaver, and pitchers Eddie Cicotte and Claude "Lefty" Williams, for they were still key members of the White Sox, who also had second baseman Eddie Collins and catcher Ray Schalk, who would both go on to the Hall of Fame.

Weaver, who was asked to participate but refused, and was banned anyway, was truly wronged: Essentially, he was an honest man punished for not being a snitch. Where was Al Pacino's Colonel Frank Slade from Scent of a Woman when Weaver need him? "Hoo-ah!"

Most of them played "outlaw" ball (outside the control of "organized baseball") for a few years thereafter, but none was ever let back into the good graces of the officials of the game. Jackson was the first to die, in 1951, and was the only one of the bunch who seemed headed for the Hall of Fame. (Not that there WAS a Hall of Fame until 1936.) McMullin died in 1952, Weaver in 1956, Williams in 1959, Felsch in 1964, Cicotte in 1969, Gandil in 1970, and Risberg was the last to go, in 1975.

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