After last night’s 5-4 loss to Detroit, the New York Yankees and their fanbase (myself included) find themselves staring at this season’s punchline – A.J. Burnett – to save their season. Burnett, with his second straight season with an ERA over 5 and 25 wild pitches this season (third most in the last 100 years or so) might not be the scariest pitcher thrown into a do-or-die playoff situation, but he’s not exactly boosting confidence levels across the Bronx.
Yet despite the combination of humor and terror that Burnett starts have given Yankee fans in the past, the fanbase is realizing that their season depends on him, and has warmed up to him much in the same way that coworkers sing “Happy Birthday” to the mail clerk who shows up one day with his own cake and a handgun, crying hysterically. They’ve used the phrase “I believe in A.J.” – paraphrasing a comment manager Joe Girardi said during last season’s ALCS:
Joe Girardi added that using Burnett protects the young Phil Hughes and the aging Andy Pettitte. “We set up our rotation for a number of reasons. We’re just staying with it,” Girardi said. “Phil Hughes has never thrown on short rest. We have Andy Pettitte, who is coming off an injury. There’s a lot of things that go into making up your rotation. We believe in A.J. I know it’s been a tough year for him at times this year, but we believe in A.J.“
Burnett lost Game 4 of the 2010 ALCS, but that’s beside the point. The “I believe in A.J.” thing seems to have taken off to meme-like status, leading me to share the things that I believe. Feel free to share yours online using the #IBelieve hashtag, and let me know.
- I BELIEVE that Crash Davis’ speech to Annie Savoy is so full of estrogen he probably grew boobs saying it.
- I BELIEVE that Joe Torre destroyed Jeff Weaver’s career.
- I BELIEVE in Johnny Calhoun’s
ThisThese Things I Believe.
- I BELIEVE that all closers should either look insane, have awesome facial hair, or be quiet, skinny Panamanians.
- I BELIEVE that catchers should block the plate if the ball is coming and that runners should run them the hell over if they are blocking it.
- I BELIEVE that companies should accurately describe their dress code in their code of conduct or whatever they want to call it, right down to what is appropriate for “casual Friday”, and that IT people should be able to ignore it.
- I BELIEVE that if you’re backing into a parking spot, and you’re not unloading something, you’re probably a douche.
- I BELIEVE that ticket prices do not hurt attendance as much in the long run as inflated concession prices. That goes for movies, too.
- I BELIEVE in Coach Lubbock, and I’m glad he got a shot at St. Augustine’s Academy.
- I BELIEVE that children are our future; teach them well, and let them lead the way. [you knew that was coming]
And I believe that the Yanks have a shot with Burnett on the mound. Take away a horrid August, and A.J.’s got an ERA in the 4.20s for the remainder of the season. It’s not exactly “ace” numbers, but Rick Porcello isn’t exactly Justin Verlander, is he?