Pinstriped Star Wars: Return of the Yankees
The Evil Empire is back and TV ratings for the World Series are soaring. There will never again be talk of a salary cap in baseball. Baseball needs it Davids and its Goliaths. Do you think the networks really want the Tampa Bay Rays as the centrepiece of the Fall Classic or, instead, the Bronx Bombers and their legions of lovers and haters? The World Series without the Yankees is like Star Wars without Darth Vader. "Hank,,,Hal, you are my sons!"
There is absolutely no pressure on A.J. Burnett for tonight's Game 5 start against the Phillies so he has every chance in the world to do something special. Think about it. 1) This is the World Series. It's the time to relax and enjoy the moment. The most intense pressure came in the Division Series and the Championship Series; 2) Burnett already has vindicated himself by coming up huge in Game 2 after his big buddy CC Sabathia lost Game 1 to Cliff Lee; 3) The game is in Philly on the road with a hostile crowd against the Phillies' ace, Lee. Expectations are lower on Burnett; 4) Even if he loses, the Yankees go home with a 3-2 lead in the Series and the winningest pitcher in post-season play, Andy Pettitte and the big man waiting to work Games 6-7; 5) A.J. is pitching on short rest. He has a built in excuse if he runs out of gas or spits the bit. Hey, I volunteered to pitch on my fourth day. Gimme a break.
Imagine the Roy Halladay household tonight in Denver, with Doc settling down in front of the flatscreen to watch his former "little buddy" work the possible World Series clincher. Do you think he's wondering how he's going to respond when the new GM Alex Anthopoulos calls later in November. Will he say, "Alex, I've thought about it and I really like the way the Jays are heading, so I'm going to stay for my final year." Or maybe will he perhaps say, "Alex, please find me a big budget contender and trade me there. I don't need a team that is already going to win next year without me, because that's why I am going there. I can actually lead a team to victory instead of being along for the ride like some guys making $82.5 million for five years. I am the one who is going to put them over the top. I don't need a cushy situation where I can be a No. 2 guy with a team that would have won whether I'm there or not. I'm the man."
Anthopoulos will agree to trade him. How serious can the Jays be about hanging on to Halladay when they allow his friend, mentor and pitching coach Brad Arnsberg to leave for the same job with the Astros? If they couldn't afford Burnett, they cannot afford Halladay who will rightfully use A.J.'s Yankee numbers as a platform for negotiations for his own five-year deal. Don't begrudge Halladay his due and I don't believe under Paul Beeston and Double-A (Anthopoulos) the new GM that the Jays' organization will try to tar and feather him or tarnish Doc's reputation in the court of public opinion as he heads out the door like they did with Carlos Delgado, Kelvim Escobar and others, making it seem like the club had a fair and balanced offer on the table and the players spurned the city. There is too much class there.
I still say the Yankees in six...but I've been wrong before.