Thursday, April 14, 2011

Remember The Wolf when it comes to Burnett's fast start

In the movie Pulp Fiction, Vincent Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) run into a serious problem when Vega accidentally shoots a man in the face while the pair are transporting the poor bastard from one location to another.

To solve this messy quandary, they call on The Wolf, played by Harvey Keitel, a guy who plays this cleaner-type character in 12-15 other 90s movies. The Wolf assesses the situation, calmly sets a protocol, and puts the two criminals on the path to continued freedom.

After Vega and Winnfield finish "brain detail" in the garage of abetting homeowner Quentin Tarantino, the homeowner remarks how he can't believe it's even the same car.

The Wolf makes it clear there's still work to be done.

"Well, let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet."

It's one of roughly four million classic throwaway lines in Pulp Fiction, and it reminds me of how a Yankee fan should feel about A.J. Burnett's 3-0 start.

Burnett was great for six innings of his seven innings on Wednesday, which was good enough for a 7-4 win over the Orioles. After last year's 10-15 disaster, Burnett's 3-for-3 start has been a blessing, even more so when you factor in the regression of Phil Hughes.

But as The Wolf intimated, we're not in the clear with Allan James. He's been a historically good April pitcher in his three seasons in New York — he's never had a losing decision — so really, we haven't learned much other than his ongoing love affair with crap weather in the South Bronx.

Burnett is 3-0 because Burnett has the stuff that most pitchers in baseball dream about. When he's able to harness it, he can be ace-like.

Of course, he's not good at the harness thing. His mechanics and mental headspace have a habit of going out of whack for months at a time. Last year it was June and August, when he went a combined 0-9 with an ERA close to 10.00.

Burnett will have a start when he struggles, just like every pitcher. It will probably come sooner rather than later. If he's able to put that behind him, and come back five days later with the same confidence he had in April, then we'll know we can count on Burnett in a season the Yankees have never had to count on him more.

Even then, I don't think we should do what The Wolf suggested. A high five will suffice, maybe one bro-hug, max. Good times.

Dan Hanzus writes three columns a week on his New York Yankees site, River & Sunset. He can be reached at Follow Dan on Twitter @danhanzus.


The Captain said...

Big ups for the PF reference.

As far as it relates to A.J., I agree that we can't all be filling his name in on our Cy Young ballots. But the fact that he noticed a mechanical flaw last night, called Rothschild out to address it, and then Rothschild simply told him to forget about it and pitch and he did.

Considering a mechanical flaw would have had A.J. completely useless out on the mound last year, I think it's a step in the right direction and bodes well moving forward.

Dan Hanzus said...

Good point, Captain. That could be a sign of growth, but what I really want to see is how he reacts to a six runs in three-plus innings type start.

Can he put that behind him? That's when we'll know if all this talk about Burnett being in a better place is for real.

Thanks for reading.

Andy said...

I concur that people can't all be filling his identify in on our Cy youthful ballots. however the truth that he observed a mechanised flaw final night
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