When Burnett first came to New York in 2009 from the Toronto Blue Jays he delivered, posting a 4.04 ERA, eating 207 innings and 195 strikeouts in the regular season. He followed by making 5 postseason starts, where he went 6+ innings in four starts.
The Yankees won three critical playoff games with Burnett on the mound, which eventually led to the franchise’s 27th World Series title.
Burnett showed no signs of slowing down when 2010 season began. He didn’t lose a game in March/April finishing the month with a 3-0 record over five starts and a 2.34 ERA.
By the All-Star break Burnett started to slip. Still, he left no time for the Yankees to worry, as in July Burnett posted a 3-1 record over five starts, an ERA of 2.0 and threw one complete game.
It is easy to forget, or it was hard to remember how well Burnett was pitching last season before the real damage came in August.
Burnett literally was Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in pinstripes, finishing 0-4 with a 7.80 ERA in five starts.
Whether it was pitching coach Dave Eiland going AWOL for weeks, or something personal like his mystery black eye, really didn’t matter because the discontent was all over his face. Something was clearly off.
Always known to be a fierce competitor, Burnett career is branded as wild hitting 89 batters in 12 seasons, 19 of which were from 2010.
In all fairness, no pitcher has ever been perfect all season long but no one expected Burnett too be either.
Burnett performances deemed ‘bad days’ are a whole new level of mess. Usually it happens in the third or fourth inning, after Burnett flashes though the two or three prior. Than he just implodes, sometimes allowing seven or more runs to score with only one out achieved.
If Burnett is not pulled and comes in following the hell he just allowed, he has a tendency to go right back to pitching like a stud again. Burnett defines frustration; you can see it in his face and on every fan at the game when this happens.
See all pitchers are expected to have tough games, but Burnett would have four or five solid outings maximum knowing inevitable struggles were on the horizon. This was part of having Burnett on your staff, and trust me any MLB team would be happy to have AJ as their solid number two. His stuff is electric and he so much natural talent.
The last two months of 2010, Burnett seemed to be stuck in that one bad inning, but it was no longer sandwiched in between accomplishments. It was painful for everyone to witness.
Now, with 2011 Spring Training in full swing fans have seen Burnett in a few outings and he looks phenomenal. He built a pitching facility on his property in the off-season and all his hard work is headin in the right direction.
New Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild met with AJ at his home in January and worked his magic on Burnett as the two really clicked.
So, what is the one thing that worries me because it can make the old Burnett re-emerge and fast?
The Yankee fans.
Burnett will be back in the Bronx in a few weeks and Yankee fans need to either cheer in support or just shut-up and zip-it.
Just repeat this proverbial saying, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Is that simple enough for the arrogant Yankee fans?
Look, I am not saying that Burnett wants a pass, or that this is at all permanent but he has to suck in his first three starts but until that moment we, the fans have to let the man get his grip again.
Fact is if Burnett pitches well, close to 2009, everyone will be content. Mainly, it will make the Yankees that much more competitive.
Rule is no booing Burnett in his first start before he even throws a pitch. No more acting like it’s my party and I will cry if I want too.
Burnett has worked his ass off to right himself and Yankee fans have to stop acting so entitled.
There are some ‘fans’, you know who you are, that shoulder the blame for the Yankees not signing Cliff Lee.
The embarrassing and classless behavior towards the ace’s wife should have you banned from ever entering Yankee Stadium again. Those involved are such wimps; they acted so tough with Mrs. Lee to only to hide in embarrassment.
Even though Cliff Lee handled it immediately with class, no one can go become part of a place where his wife and the mother of his children got spit on, yelled at and just harassed for watching her husband in a game.
Let’s just suppose you were involved with the Lee fiasco, but you still re-emerge at the ballpark in 2011, as it is a secret that you are really scum.
Don’t you think the least you can do for Yankees Universe is to cheer on Burnett? Try and pretend someone just kicked you in the nuts if you have problems screaming anything other than boooo…..please come find me as I will happily wear some boots.
Speaking for myself, I want my ‘underdog’ Yankees to win the World Series Championship for my hometown of New York City in 2011. So, you are either in or you’re out….but don’t do anymore damage to something that we all share. Got It?
- Rothschild Confident in Burnett (slidingintohome.blogspot.com)
- Larry Rothschild confident that A.J. Burnett will bounce back (thebaseballblog10.wordpress.com)
- Yankees’ A.J.: I’ve gotta be better (nypost.com)
- New York Yankees pitching coach sees positives in A.J. Burnett (sports.espn.go.com)
- Yankees pitching coach sees positives in A.J. Burnett (fanaticsportsandcards.com)