Sunday, August 21, 2011

That Boy Ain't Right: A.J. Burnett Throws a Hissy Fit, Shows Up Joe Girardi

Squawker Jon and I went to Asbury Park for a day of fun in the sun at the beach, so I missed most of last night's game. When I got into the car to head home, I heard John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman talk about the 9-1 score, and how Aaron Laffey did a good job after the game was out of reach. They went on and on about Laffey, without ever mentioning who put the Yankees in the hole in the first place -- A.J. Burnett!

Anyhow, when I got home, I looked up what happened, and made a snarky remark on Facebook referencing Brian Cashman's Objective Pipe, I wondered how he would insist that A.J. really had a good game, even though he gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings. Then I heard from Facebook friends about A.J.'s hissy fit -- how he cursed at Joe Girardi when taken out of the game, saying "That's B*llsh*t," and stormed into the clubhouse after being removed. Then Girardi followed him into the clubhouse, with the body language of an angry father. A.J. came back into the dugout, then left again, after the runs scored, before the inning was over.

I couldn't quite believe Burnett would be so outrageous, but sure enough, the clips shown in the postgame showed exactly that. To their credit, YES analysts Ken Singleton and Bob Lorenz were very critical of what A.J. did, and called it like they saw it. My thoughts after seeing Burnett in action was to channel a Hank Hill line, about how "That boy ain't right."

But then, in the postgame, Joe Girardi came up with a ridiculous story about how Burnett was really upset with the umpire, not him, and was really cursing at the ump calling that pitch to Joe Mauer Strike Three, and not Ball Four. Girardi was very confrontational with YES' Jack Curry, one of the most respected voices in baseball. Joe blamed the media for making something out of nothing, and trying to make a problem with Burnett and Girardi when there was none. Basically, Girardi said to the press, "Who are you gonna believe? Me or your lying eyes?" (Read the transcript of the conversation, and watch the exchange here.)

Look, there are plenty of times when the media makes something out of nothing -- like Mark Feinsand's absolutely shameful attempt to link Alex Rodriguez to the University of Miami football scandal because A-Rod is on the school's Board of Trustees, even though there isn't a shred of evidence linking A-Rod to it.  But the Burnett issue isn't one of them. For one thing, Burnett was looking at Girardi, not the ump, when he cursed. Second, according to Burnett, Girardi asked him if the comment was directed at him. And finally, Burnett has a history of losing his cool like this -- it wasn't reported much at the time, but Burnett started taking off his uniform in the dugout after being taken out of a White Sox game a few weeks ago. Also, remember how he cut up his hands after slamming them on the clubhouse door last year?

And I find myself agreeing with ESPN New York's Wally Matthews, of all people, in his very critical assessment of Girardi's coddling of Burnett:

Either Joe Girardi is one of the staunchest managerial defenders of any and all players who have ever worn a Yankee uniform or he is a lot more afraid of his own players than he is of looking foolish and untruthful on live television.

There really is no third choice.

You know, for all the grief the media has given A-Rod for being "bush league," I don't remember him ever showing up his manager, even when the manager showed him up by batting him eighth. Yet A.J. gets away with it. Why? As Matthews writes:

"A.J. was angry at himself," Girardi said afterward.

Well, it's about time someone other than A.J. got angry at A.J. Someone like the manager, who turns the other cheek each time he gets his face publicly spat on, or the GM who signed Burnett to the five-year, $82.5 million deal and now admonishes fans to "smoke the objective pipe" and see A.J. through pinstriped glasses.

I completely agree. Enough is enough. Burnett needs to be taken out of the rotation. Now. How can there be any justification for keeping him in, when Phil Hughes is pitching his heart out these days -- and acting a heck of a lot mature, to boot.

As for Burnett, that boy ain't right. And somebody needs to be a grownup in Yankeeland and hold him accountable until he gets right.

What do you think? Tell us about it!


coolnewyorker said...

Not everyone is cut out to wear the pinstripes. Remember?: Johnson, Rogers,Vazquez,Brown, etc....and possibly even Ian Kennedy.

AJ does not, cannot and will not play well in the Big Apple. Have mercy: ship him out of the Bronx.

Uncle Mike said...

It figures that "Bad A.J." would seem to settle the question of who to leave out of the six-man rotation when we need to make it a five-man rotatin again -- right after Freddy Garcia goes on the Disabled List.

So when A.J. goes... does that make Nick Swisher the DPM? Designated Pie Man? Or, since Swish is a hitter, does it have to be a pitcher?

Roger 9 said...

Where are the Steinbrenner boys in all of this? If Cashman is unwilling to pull the plug on A.J. then it's time the owners stood up and did the unthinkable and banish Burnett from the Bronx. Cashman was over ruled when he didn't want Soriano during the off seasom. This is far more important an issue. The pitching staff's performance as well as the entire team's morale is at stake.

Roger 9 said...

The secondary story of the Yankee evening was the manner in which Joe Girardi treated Jack Curry. It was nothing short of insulting. Jack Curry was doing his job when he asked the pointed questions, which he did very professionally.
Girardi owes Jack Curry a public apology.

Lisa Swan said...

I dunno about Ian Kennedy, coolnewyorker. But he was tossed aside after one dopey interview. A.J.'s done a few dozen dopey interviews in his time with the Yankees, and he's still around.

Roger9, excellent point about the apology. Jack Curry isn't just a great reporter, he was acting in the capacity of the YES Network. Nothing he said was over the line.

I like the Designated Pie Man idea, Mike!

Roger 9 said...

A.J. Burnett must go! Two pitching coaches have not been able to solve his problems. A number of catchers have not yet been able to get him to throw pitches with effect and command. Giving him more starts in the future is merely "kicking the can down the road" say nothing about his bumping a more effective pitcher to form a five pitcher rotation...all this while he languishes in self pity, anger, and incompetence.
Somebody in the Yankee brain trust must make the painful decision to bite the bullet to send A.J. Burnett packing.

Uncle Mike said...

Maybe we can pack him off to the Mets. The only question is, who do they have that we could possibly want AND find a place for? It's not like we can move Jose Reyes to 3rd base, we're pretty well settled there.

Okay, in all seriousness, how about Burnett for Jason Bay? A classic "my headache for your headache" trade. The Mets need starters, and with less pressure on him, A.J. might be better in Flushing, and his veteran presence (World Champs with 2 teams) could help their young pitchers. And with all due respect to Brett Gardner, he is the closest thing to a weak link in the lineup, and while Andruw Jones has been adequate, we may be watching his career's death throes, while Bay could give the Yankees 2 or 3 good seasons as a DH (especially since Jorge Posada probably has none left).

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