Thursday, February 23, 2012

The No Mo Better Blues

Good Catholic boy I am. Had I not read Bill's piece on Tuesday I would not have known that yesterday was Ash Wednesday. People think I kid when I say that the Lord and I have an understanding and it is predicated upon mutual apathy. I kid not. I suppose that if yesterday was Ash Wednesday, then Easter cannot be too very far away. It is a rite of Spring I enjoy. The bunny hibernates for three days, comes out of his hole and upon seeing his shadow declares it is only six weeks until Memorial Day weekend. Nailed it; huh? Upon further contemplation 'tis probably not the season to use "nailed it" to illustrate a point. Forget I did. I already have.

As a Yankees fan, the nascent 2012 season has already brought me some wonderful news and some that may be considerably less so. I shall not miss AJ Burnett. I was not in favor of paying him $85 Million - or whatever the hell it was they paid him - to cross the border from Toronto to the Bronx after the 2008 season. I realize that it is not entirely his afault that he proved not to be worth the big contract. He did not become better simply because the Yankees chose to overpay him.

Throwing excessive amounts of money at a player does not make him something that he is not. A lesson one would have presumed the Yankees learned in spades courtesy of their courtship of Jason Giambi. If looking within would have bummed them out too much, then they could have looked cross-town at their friendly rivals the Mets and asked them how well the whole Bobby Bonilla experience worked out for them. Hell, after this July the Mets will only owe him another 23 payments @ $1,193,248.20 each to finish paying off his contract.....that they inherited when they traded for him in the 1998 off-season so that he could have a second tour of duty in Flushing. The fact that his second go-round lasted but 60 games in 1999 merely underscores the enormity of their error. He is not exactly the gift who keeps on giving. Unless the gift you are thrilled to receive is agita.

I am keenly aware of Burnett's singular achievement while a member of the team: winning Game Two of the 2009 World Series. And if my signature Wayfarers had rose-colored lenses then I suppose I could look back on the Burnett years fondly. Fortunately, I live in this world. That is why I recall that his second start against the Phillies in Game Five made it possible for the Yankees to come home from Philly ahead 3-2 as opposed to celebrating their 27th World Series victory. Without Burnett getting shellacked in Game Five, the home fans would not have been able to watch Andy Pettitte win the clicher at the Stadium in Game Six. Gee, thanks AJ.

I have no idea how Burnett will do in Pittsburgh although I suspect that given the size of the pond in which he shall now be swimming he shall do quite nicely. I care not at all. I shall not go out of my way to root against him - becuase the Pirates have endured more than enough suffering for one lifetime already - but I shall not miss him. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever.

I wish the same could be said for Mariano Rivera. Mo showed up at Spring Training earlier this week dropping not-too-subtle hints that once 2012 is resigned to history's dustheap, he shall hang up his glove and spikes for the final time. When you watch Mo pitch, you sometimes forget that while his motion has never changed and his weaponry remains limited yet lethal - the same as it ever was - his is no longer the body of a young man. It was Rivera after all who burst on the scene even before either Jeter or Posada did - mowing down the Mariners in the classic 1995 ALDS. We forget - or at least I do - that when October is utilized as the unit of measurement - just how many Octobers removed we are from that one.

Time indeed marches on. It moves forward under its own weight and of its own accord. Would one call that "Mo-mentum"? Perhaps....

....here is to hoping that it continues to pulsate through the Bronx for at least one more October.

-AK

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