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Schmeelk In The Stands: Warped Perception

A.J. Burnett

(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

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By John Schmeelk
» More Columns

I understand Yankees fans and their utter distrust of AJ Burnett. He’s had a historically terrible season for the Yankees. But much like everyone simply assumed Cliff Lee would dominate the Yankees in Game two (good thing I decided not to write that blog – how such an assumption against the Yankees lineup didn’t make any sense), everyone thinks that AJ Burnett is a lock to get rocked in Game 4.

Sure, it’s possible, but it’s also possible that Burnett throws a decent game. As the omniscient John Sterling likes to say, you just can’t predict baseball. Some of the numbers actually indicate Burnett is going to keep the Yankees in the game. In his seven starts since the beginning of September he’s allowed three earned runs or less in five of them. Two of those appearances were of three and four innings, but it’s still not terrible. And don’t forget Burnett’s performance in the Yankees biggest playoff game last year, game 2 against the Phillies (coincidentally it was following a Cliff Lee victory) trailing one game to none. He went a full seven innings and gave up one run on four hits, striking out nine.

And the Yankees shouldn’t even need a dominating performance like that. All the Yankees need from AJ Burnett is to keep them in the game. It’s time for the offense to wake up and start mashing like it’s capable of. The offense needs to win this one. The Yankee offense has been silent for three games; spare a one inning outburst in Game 1. Tommy Hunter had a pretty good year, but he is not Cliff Lee. Strike early, get Burnett a lead, and see what happens. Where’s that vaunted Yankees HR power?

Besides Robinson Cano, no one is hitting well. Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, and Jorge Posada have all been bad. Granderson, Gardner, and Jeter aren’t far behind. They aren’t even getting on base so Cano can drive them in. As much as it’s about pitching in the postseason, teams need to hit too. There’s too much talent in the lineup for it to go down without a whimper. Last season, this group showed resiliency and didn’t let stretches like these last long. It’s time to put up an eight or ten spot, and it needs to happen tonight, or it might be too late.

Schmeelk’s Snippets

- What made Cliff Lee’s dominance so impressive to me last night was the fact that most of his stuff is of a similar speed. His fastball comes in at 92, with his cutter and changeup both around 86-87. Spare a slow curveball, maybe about 10% of the time, he doesn’t change speeds a ton. His location and movement is so phenomenal it just doesn’t matter.

- I was feeling down when I went to use the restroom at the Stadium last night after the 8th inning, and who do I run into but the Continental himself, Chris Carlin. Rocking the Rangers pullover, he looked so concerned and nervous it actually made me feel better about a 9th inning comeback. Carlin’s history at Yankees-Rangers playoff games is not a good one, and his nerves gave me confidence. Dave Robertson proceeded to get knocked around in the 9th, and the Yankees lost big. Maybe, just maybe, this is the Rangers year after all. I’ll be there again tonight.

- Another note, on that same trip to the bathroom – I witnessed what must have been the longest it has taken a man to relieve himself at a urinal in the history of mankind. Three guys finished their business at the adjacent urinal before this guy finally zipped up and walked away. I had him at three plus minutes. Someone needs to check the Guinness book of world records on that one.

- How do all these fraudulent fans get tickets to Yankees playoff games? I’m on the train and people are wondering what stop to get off at. A group of fans in front of me weren’t wearing one piece of Yankees gear. People in the stadium were asking how to get to certain levels and are speaking in wonder about how they are seeing the Stadium for the first time. Really? Really? Where have you been the last two years? And these aren’t families that couldn’t afford to go either. These are the rich corporate people who decided to shell out the bucks to see what a playoff game was like and don’t give two craps about the team. It had already started in the old stadium with the higher ticket prices, but the percentage of snobs that aren’t real fans that show up to games (especially playoff games) these days is ridiculous.

- Also – Yankees – did you really have to raise the parking prices from $23 to $40 for the playoffs? You are providing the SAME EXACT service. I can live with an increase, but an 80% one? C’mon, give me a break.

- Feel free to follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/Schmeelk. You’ll get some Yankees nuggets, a lot of Knicks – and other musings on the world of sports.