Monday, February 25, 2008


Chris Rock once said, "I like the concept of people, but people ruin it."

That's kind of how it is with certain sports columnists sometimes. There's one guy writing in Toronto who can write like a dream sometimes. Other times, he just abuses his forum in the Sunday sports section by slapping two half-truths together to make one quarter-truth.

"Sunday stat you can't live without: (A.J.) Burnett has 18 complete games in his career. Canadian Ferguson Jenkins had eight seasons of 20 or more complete games and one year he finished 29 outings."
Actually, you can live without it, especially if you happen to believe that since TV and the Internet have taken over the role of reporting what happens in sports, the newspaper guys and gals should focus on trying to increase understanding or stimulating the odd serious thought. This serves neither goal. It's just a cheap shot at A.J. Burnett.

Cy Young is referenced in the same column. Sunday stat you can't live without: Roy Halladay has 31 complete games in his career. Cy Young had 12 seasons of 35 or more complete games and one year he finished 48 outings.

Wait a second, isn't that a little silly to compare a pitcher from today to a Hall of Famer from a completely different period solely based on complete games, which have fallen at a steady rate down through the years? There, now you see how wrongheaded and what a waste of space it is to make that comparision.

It's an affront to Ferguson Jenkins to use him as a prop in an attack on a contemporary player. It trivializes what Jenkins did and who he was, and if he was pitching nowadays, he'd probably chuck his seven strong and turn the game over to the bullpen, just like Burnett and Halladay do on their good nights. In four of those eight aforementioned seasons Fergie didn't even lead the league in complete games; one year, he was fourth.

Incidentally, here are some other present-day pitchers who are even bigger gutless wonders than A.J. Burnett, based on the fact they have fewer complete games:
  • Barry Zito (9): Won someone called a "Cy Young Award" in 2002. Never heard of it.
  • John Lackey (10): Didn't he win Game 7 of the World Series once? Pretty good for a guy with less guts than A.J. Burnett.
  • Brad Penny (3): In fairness, Burnett did make his major-league debut a whole six weeks earlier, so he got an unfair head start.
  • Roy Oswalt (12): That .675 winning percentage (10th-best all time) would be a thousand, if he wasn't such a wimp.
  • Josh Beckett (4): No guts and all, but somehow has two World Series rings.
  • Johan Santana (6): He's got two of these Cy Young thingies, but perhaps the New York Mets should be trying to get that $137.5-million contract annulled.

Granted, though, for $55 million across five years, perhaps A.J. Burnett should be able to pay some MIT scientists to invent time travel and ship him to 1968, so he could complete 20 games every summer.

That must have been the point: A.J. Burnett sucks because he hasn't furthered advances in time travel. That's all for now. Send your thoughts to

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