Working in the fields, 'til you get your back burned
Working 'neath the wheel, 'til you get your facts learned
Baby I got my facts learned real good right now.
You better get it straight darling:
Poor man wanna be rich; Rich man wanna be king
And a king ain't satisfied 'til he rules everything.
I want to go out tonight, want to find out what I got.
I had been thinking about choosing "Born in the U.S.A." as tonight's song to commemorate my return to the States, but then I got to thinking that I didn't want to misinterpret the song's meaning as badly as Ronnie Reagan did during his 1984 re-election campaign. That, and I didn't want my preview tonight to be as self-indulgent as Jay's was last night.
So, with Springseen in mind, having had a Springsteen cover band play the wedding reception I attended Saturday, and with Andy Pettitte taking the mound for the first time since back pain forced him to a premature exit in his start last Friday, we turn to one of my favorite Springsteen songs: Badlands.
Now this is not yet another blog post bashing the new Stadium and its issues. In fact, it has nothing to do with the Stadium itself. Rather, it's a brief look at Andy Pettitte. Early in his career, a knock on Pettitte was that he was constantly battling arm problems and that he often had difficulty discerning the difference between pitching in pain and pitching injured.
Pettitte has long outgrown that reputation, twice (at least) with the aid of human growth hormone, but more due to better conditioning and the savvy that comes with being a 15 year veteran. He spent much of the second half last year pitching through shoulder pain knowing that the team was already decimated by injuries, thin on pitching, and in a (losing) fight for its post-season life. Pettitte pitched poorly during this stretch: after going 10-7 with a 4.03 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP in the first half, he struggled to the tune of 4-7, 5.35, 1.53 in the second half.
It was an unfortunate turn for Pettitte, finishing off his contract in such a poor fashion and raising questions again about his health and durability. After making $16M in both of the last two seasons, he held out for much of the off-season, hoping for a deal similar in value. Pettitte however overestimated both the market and his own worth at this advanced stage of his career, instead settling in late January for a $5.5M base salary with incentives for every ten innings pitched from 150 to 210 as well as roster bonuses for days on the active roster. The incentives can bring the contract value to a much more palatable $12M.
So, as Ben at RAB wisely pointed out Saturday, it comes as no surprise that Pettitte has been adamant since last Friday that he would be starting tonight. You can say that his back may be burned, but he's got his facts learned: he knows what his body can and can't do at this point in his career and he knows what's on the line financially. This rich man wants to be king, or at least richer, and tonight he'll go out to the mound and find out what he's got.
In other news, Chien-Ming Wang, who almost assuredly would have started tonight had Pettitte not been able to go, will now return to the starting rotation tomorrow. CC Sabathia will be pushed back to Friday, and it appears that Phil Hughes is now ticketed for the bullpen. Rest assured we'll be talking about this more over the next day or so.
Opposing Pettitte tonight will be Scott Bizarro Kramer. I have some misplaced hatred towards Bizarro Kramer. He baffled them in this game last year, spoiling Brett Gardner's Major League debut. I then proceeded to get tagged with a $397 speeding ticket driving home from the game. I blame Feldman. Go get him fellas.