Wednesday, September 2, 2009

AJ, You Are Killing Me

During the course of the NBA playoffs, the mail guy and I made several bets about the outcome. I'm not a guru, by any means, but the wagers tended to favor me. And it's not like I was taking advantage of him; he's a big sports fan, and typically he'd be the one making offers.

The classic example was when Houston started to look decent against LA, and he wanted to make a straight-up $20 bet that they'd win the series. Even in my non-guru brain, it was crystal clear that the Lakers would never lose to the Rockets. Needless to say, I took him up. And I took him up on others, no less obvious. My general tactic was to hear one of his viewpoints, question it mildly, listen to his defense, and then taunt him until he put his money on the line. In toto, I probably won a modest sum like 50 bucks from the mail guy.

So early this season, when he started deriding the Yanks (mail guy is a Mets fan), particularly AJ Burnett, I made a rash decision. Reasoning that I'd already won more than my fair share, I proposed a $20 bet that was one part pity, one part defiance, and one part blind optimism: AJ Burnett vs. Johan Santana. Wins. Straight up. Mail guy did that thing where you fake a surprised laugh, cover your mouth with a fist, and turn your head to the side. As in, "man, you are fucking crazy." He was game.

By mid-July, it had become pretty clear that I wouldn't win. Santana had stayed around 3 games ahead in the win column, and AJ was too inconsistent to expect a sustained burst of late-season virtuosity. Three weeks ago, mail guy came in, put his hand on my shoulder, adopted a philosophical expression, shook his head, and said, "yo...this bet don't look good for you."

And then Johan went down for the season with an injured elbow, stopped in his tracks at 13 wins. AJ had 10, but he also had what I estimated to be 10 starts remaining. 4 wins in 10 starts isn't too much to ask, right?

Start 1: AJ gets manhandled by the Sox, blames it on Posada.

Start 2: AJ has pretty good stuff, but gets no support and implodes in the 4th against Texas.

Start 3: AJ has absolutely no command, walks Orioles like crazy, and can't take advantage of 6 runs in support to get the win.

Start 3 was last night, and it was immensely frustrating. When he (barely) finished the 5th, the Yanks trailed 6-5. If we had scored just two runs in the top of the 6th, AJ would be eligible for the win without throwing another pitch. We scored one, but then AJ renewed my hope by coming out for the bottom of the 6th. He got the first out, but the second batter hit a grounder to A-Rod, and Teixeira mishandled the throw at first for only his second error of the season. With his pitch count over 100, Girardi took AJ out and summoned Marte. In the top of the 7th, the Yanks broke it open, which means that if AJ could just have finished the inning, he would have had the win. But no. There's a curse against my bet, and it's driving me nuts.

So he has roughly 7 starts left, 6 if Girardi decides to give him some rest at the end of the season. 3 wins in that time is still not unrealistic, but I can already tell this will be a huge point of frustration as the season goes on. And it's not like I really care about the $20. It's the principle of the thing, dammit.

Meanwhile, the Yankee hit parade keeps on...parading. Five home runs last night, including two for Jorge Posada. During the third inning, YES announcer Ken Singleton mentioned a YouTube clip he'd watched earlier that day of his old manager, Orioles great Earl Weaver. I went and checked it out, and it's pretty hilarious. Weaver was known as a combative guy, and the video is of one of his confrontations with an umpire, this one after a balk call. Please do not watch this video at work, or anywhere in the vicinity of easily-offended people.

The reason you can hear the audio so well is that the ump was mic'ed for a documentary about the day-to-day lives of the men in blue. The best thing about this clip? You end up liking both Weaver and the umpire. My favorite part comes after the ump tells Weaver that he, in fact, is no good either, and this little back-and-forth gem takes place.

Weaver: You tell me five, ten fucking years from now who's in the Hall of Fame!
Ump: Oh, you're going to be in the Hall of Fame?
Weaver: You know it.
Ump: Why?
Weaver: You know it!
Ump: For fucking up the World Series?
Weaver: You know it!
Ump: You're going to be in the Hall of Fame for fucking up the World Series?
Weaver: I've won more than I've lost, Bill!
Ump: Ohhhh no you haven't, Earl.
Weaver: Games! Check games! (Storms off angrily)

It's totally hilarious that Weaver would:

a) Say he won more World Series' than he lost (he won 1, lost 3).
b) When called out on it, claim he was talking about games, as if winning individual games instead of the actual Series somehow meant anything.
c) Lie about the games part anyway. (He was 11-13 managing in the World Series)

Wednesday. One more day until college football starts! Maybe a lil' preview tomorrow.

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