Tuesday, September 6, 2011

AJ and the Goldfish

I wasn't anticipating writing this post today because I intend on doing an NFL preview tomorrow but something has been nagging at me that I just have to let out...


Ohhhhhhhhhhh yeah.. that felt good. The proverbial rock has been lifted off of my shoulders. I feel like I could run a marathon, climb a mountain, I'M AS FREE AS A BIRD!

Geez, these last couple posts have certainly brought ouy my sarcastically enthusiastic side..

But seriously, I am so sick and tired listening to and reading what people say about AJ Burnett. We all now that in terms of stuff, he is very talented. But since when in sports has physical ability alone been all you need? If somebody born with all the physical tools to be a great player was automatically supposed to be the best player, why isn't Vince Carter one of the best players in basketball? Why was Jamarcus Russell such a ginormous failure? Do you want to know why? They only have half the tools. Because they lack what makes guys like Tom Brady and Derek Jeter great. Mental toughness.

Do you know who knew this better than anyone? Earl Woods. He made sure that there would be nobody mentally tougher than his son, Eldrick. (aka Tiger for those of you who haven't figured this out yet.) Unfortunately for Tiger, he discovered that just like physical ability, you can injure your mental toughness. But, like him or not, in his prime Tiger Woods was the perfect example of mental toughness.

And that brings us to AJ.. Who, by my guess, has about as much mental toughness of a goldfish (I'd like to take this opportunity to apologize to the goldfish community), only has half of the tools. Not all the tools, half the tools. And with only half the tools you need to be a successful Major League Baseball pitcher, how good is his potential really? It seems to me like his potential is about a 13-11 season with an era around 4. (His average season according to Baseball-Reference) And if that's what his true potential is than there is no point in us, as fans, to expect anything more out of him.

Mental toughness doesn't seem to be something you just pick up like a new pitch one off-season, this is something you're born with or develop shortly after birth. You either got it or you don't, and for our poor AJ.. He don't.  When I look at AJ Burnett I don't see an insanely gifted pitcher who is just not putting all the pieces together, I see a pitcher with good physical ability but will just never be good enough mentally to be a front end starter. I see a run of the mill, 4th or 5th starter.

Do you know why I'm confident that I'm correct? Confident AJ has hit his peak as a starter? The guy has been a .500 starter his entire career with an era under 4 only 5 times in a 13 year career! He's only had one good season.. Only one year where you can say he was definitely better than that 13-11 4.00 stat line I threw at you before. Plain and simple, AJ Burnett is just not that good. He doesn't have all the tools and the worst part is that, due to age, he's beginning to lose the only tools he used to have.

It's sad actually that such enormous expectation have been put on somebody with no chance of fulfilling them. He was set up to fail.

So as a Yankee fan I have a bit of advice for my fellow members of Yankee Universe. Next time AJ Burnett makes a start put the aspirin, stress ball, bottle of scotch, and pistol away and just accept him for what it is. Stop setting yourself up for disappointment and stop setting him up to disappoint. Face the facts, he's just not that good and never will be.

Class Dismissed,
Student of Sports


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