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Time to Clean the Slate – Yankees need to cut ties with Burnett

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At the end of 2008 it was a somewhat somber time for New York Yankees fans. The disappointment of missing the playoffs for the first time in over a decade had left the Yankees in the unfamiliar position of feeling a little hopeless and lost in direction.

Their farm system was just getting back on track to being respectable after years of trades to bring in big name guys, bloated contracts and last ditch bandaids to perhaps boost them through the Playoffs.

Manager Joe Girardi wore #27 as a pseudo pledge to Yankee fans to get World Championship number 27 for the franchise. And in that offseason, the Yankees aggressively rebuilt a rotation and a franchise with 3 Free Agent signings; CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira and Aj Burnett.

It seemed to be a safe bet with the pickup of Aj Burnett. Burnett, who went 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA in 35 starts with Toronto that season won 10 of his last 12 decisions. He set also career highs in wins, strikeouts (231) and innings (221 1/3).
Against the AL East Division is where Burnett’s perceived “value” came in to play. Burnett was impressive posting a record of 20-5 and an 3.29 ERA against New York’s divisional opponents in Tampa Bay, Boston, Baltimore and Toronto.

A number 2 behind the ace CC Sabathia, Burnett seemed to be in the perfect position to thrive without the pressure an ace would have.

And Burnett, for the first 2 months of his first season, seemed to deliver. But as the 2009 season wore on Burnett at times seemed to struggle. Burnett went a respectable 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA. Although the Yankees won the World Series, Burnett only had one very good playoff game , in the World Series, which made fans overlook any signs of trouble.

Im 2010, Burnett once again started off strong but faded after several weeks. But this time he crashed hard and fast. Burnett seemed to lose his confidence and control on the mound. Although he still showed great stuff Burnett looked easily rattled and overly sensitive. Burnett would consistently meltdown on the mound giving up runs in streaks just as often as he would send his catcher chasing a wild pitch the backstop.

The Yankees again made it deep in the playoffs but met a hot-hitting talented Rangers squad who would eventually eliminate the Yankees from the playoffs. Burnett finished the 2010 season with a record of 10-15 and an ERA of 5.26.

In the offseason we learned of Burnett’s horrible divorce that seemed to have a major impact on his psyche throughout the season. This could very easily explain why Burnett lacked confidence and consistency.

The Yankees also parted ways with pitching coach Dave Eiland who at times seemed to clash with Burnett and had trouble getting hold of the right hander.

In came respected and renowned pitching coach Larry Rothschild from the Chicago Cubs. Rothschild has a tremendous reputation and was heralded for many years as one of the best pitching coaches in the Majors.

But even Rothschild could not fix Burnett. This season would be yet a further spiraling of the once promising career of Aj Burnett.

Burnett once again showed that under pressure he won’t just break, he will crumble and crumble fast. But unlike last year where Burnett would try to labor through and maybe at times show a frustrated sigh as he hit his glove, he showed a different reaction. Burnett at times looked detached and even seemed to be more angry and expressive.

That was not more evident than last week when Burnett, after giving up 4 runs in less than 2 innings against the Minnesota Twins, was quickly pulled from the game by Girardi

Burnett has finally completely fallen off. In his past two starts (including his game against the Twins) Burnett has only last 6.2 innings giving up 16 runs and posting a horrible 21.60 ERA. Burnett wasn’t just bad, he was historically bad.

His latest reaction, his horrible performance and no light at the end of the tunnel sugges that it’s time for the Yankees to get rid of Aj Burnett. Last month they waived Burnett but no team picked him up. Maybe it’s time to sit him down and put your focus on fixing Phil Hughes who has more upside than Burnett. And a far better attitude.

I was hoping Burnett would turn it around. I was hoping he would be know in baseball as the #2 started in a powerful Yankee rotation. Instead, Burnett is known as the guy on the Yankees who throws pies in the face of any teammate who delivered a walkoff winning hit.

We all cheered for Burnett to be known as the comeback player in 2011 who bounced back from a hard 2010 and returned to form or perhaps came back better. Instead, we got a more defeated, detached and volatile Burnett who showed more digress than progress.

In 2008 the Yankees agreed to a 5 year $82.5 million dollar contract. In August of 2011 the New York Yankees have to agree to let Aj Burnett walk out of the organization and continue what’s left of his career out of pinstripes.

The Yankees need to reward players like Ivan Nova with the confidence of a solid spot in the rotation, not in a limbo spot behind a pitcher who can barely escape the 3rd inning without giving up 4 runs or more.

And the Yankees owe it to their fans to stop making us endure another outing from Burnett, stop making any small positive Burnett shows into some statement of his growth and progression. Stop lying to us.

Even if Burnett does end up regaining any of his form or realizing his full potential we all know it can’t and won’t happen in pinstripes. This bridge is burned and we can’t wipe the slate clean. So let’s not tell ourselves otherwise while we still have a team with a good shot at a few more World Series titles.

It’s time to consider this experiment a failed one and cut our losses now.

Discuss this and other Yankees topics in our New York Yankees forum

Anthony DiMoro is the creator of Sports Rants and the CEO of Elite Rank Media and DiMoro Enterprises LLC. He is a former Contributor for Forbes and the Huffington Post where he covered sports, social media, and SEO. Anthony hosts the Anthony DiMoro Show podcast, and formerly hosted the 'Forbes SportsMoney Podcast'.

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MLB

Flyers Remove Statue of Kate Smith

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The Philadelphia Flyers have joined the New York Yankees in the removal of ties to singer Kate Smith, whose famous rendition of “God Bless America” was played at both Flyers and Yankees games.

Earlier this week, the Yankees decided to suspend the use of Smith’s rendition, which was played during the seventh-inning stretch, while they investigated allegations of racism against the later singer.

According to a report from the New York Daily News, there are conflicting claims about Smith’s 1939 song “That’s Why Darkies Were Born” which
originated in the 1931 Broadway revue “George White’s Scandals” and was considered satire but includes racist language, including the line;
“Someone had to pick the cotton. … That’s why darkies were born.”

The song was recorded by Smith and Paul Robeson, who was black.

The Flyers put out the following statement on Sunday (h/t ESPN):

“The Flyers have enjoyed a long and popular relationship with ‘God Bless America,’ as performed by the late Kate Smith, a woman who was awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor for her patriotic contributions to our nation.

“But in recent days, we learned that several of the songs Kate Smith performed in the 1930s include lyrics and sentiments that are incompatible with the values of our organization, and evoke painful and unacceptable themes.”

Smith, who was popular during the WWII era, recorded the offensive jingle, “Pickaninny Heaven,” which she directed at “colored children” who should fantasize about an amazing place with “great big watermelons,” among various other treats. 

Smith also endorsed the “Mammy Doll” back in 1939 which was based on a racist caricature of a black woman similar to Aunt Jemima.


“The Yankees have been made aware of a recording that had been previously unknown to us and decided to immediately and carefully review this new information,” a club spokesman said. “The Yankees take social, racial and cultural insensitivities very seriously. And while no final conclusions have been made, we are erring on the side of sensitivity.”

The odds aren’t good that Smith’s songs will return to their prominent places during sporting events such as they were with the Yankees and the Flyers.

There is a lot of cleaning up to do when it comes to racism in sports, and weeding out songs attached to artists with questionable, and controversial, backgrounds such as Smith’s, is important in pushing forward towards the future.

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Chicago Cubs

MLB Investigating Racist Social Media Messages Sent to Cubs’ Carl Edwards Jr.

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Major League Baseball is investigating racial messages sent, via social media, to Chicago Cubs relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. prior to his demotion to the Triple-A Iowa Cubs back on April 6th.

According to The Athletic’s Patrick Mooney, the messages have caught the attention of both the Cubs and the MLB Players Association, leading to the launch of the investigation.

Mooney had been a solid bullpen option during the last few seasons, but had a nightmare start to the 2019 season posting a terrible 32.40 ERA in just 1.2 innings of work over four appearances.

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MLB

Carlos Zambrano Attempting Comeback, Signs with Indy Team

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Former MLB pitcher Carlos Zambrano is attempting a comeback and has signed with the American Association’s Chicago Dogs, according to the Chicago Sun-Times’ Gordon Wittenmyer.

Zambrano last pitched in the majors back in 2012 with the Miami Marlins, but earlier in his career he finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting in the National League three times as a member of the Chicago Cubs.

Zambrano started his comeback bid last fall when he took the mound for 7 starts in the Mexican League, pitching to the tune of a 5.18 ERA, and performing even worse during a short stint in the Venezuelan Winter League.

Given his recent lack of production, it is a longshot to believe that Zambrano will return to the MLB level, but stranger things have happened.

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