Thursday, September 25, 2008

The long goodbye

It happens every few years that a pitcher walks off the field, and there is that overriding sense that they have thrown their last pitch in a Jays uniform. There was Jimmy Key in 1992, or Pat Hentgen in 1999. Each time, we find ourselves holding out some sort of hope that maybe they'll be back, someway or somehow. Experience tells us that it rarely happens.

And so, we watched last night as A.J. Burnett pitched a dilly of a game against the Yankees' B squad, then strode off the mound for what in all likelihood was his last appearance as a Jay at the Rogers Centre.

Over his three years with the franchise, A.J. was a big huggy bear who was often the first Jay off the bench to offer a loving clinch to whatever pitcher was walking off the field. So it made sense that the entire expanded roster lined up last night to welcome A.J. after his 11 strikeout performance with a last meaningful hug for the enigmatic hurler.

(And was it just us, or did Roy Halladay's hug linger a little longer than most? Doc can pull that off, because he's twice the man that we'll ever be. But we digress.)

Last night's swan song might have been a little easier were it not Shaun Marcum's injury. We were pretty comfortable in the notion that A.J. was going to bugger off and get ridiculous money from someone, and that the Jays would be better off plowing those sorts of dollars into a hitter. But with Marcum out until 2010, the remote notions that maybe (just maybe) the team could make a play to keep him here for a few more years started to get floated out there.

And damn it if we didn't start to internalize them ourselves. We're a sucker that way.

We don't exactly know what to make of A.J. Burnett's stay in Toronto. His arm troubles through his first two seasons were agonizing and suspect (remember the "sharks in my elbow" comments?), but at the same time, Burnett was the sort of pitcher who could bring you out of your seat with his stuff.

Moreover, he was a character and brought some semblance of personality to a team of taciturn strong silent types. Sure, we pissed on Burnett's shaving cream pies and his races against various Mexican food products, but we quietly laughed along with his antics. It was (dare we say it?) just A.J. being A.J..

If he's truly gone (and it is ludicrous that we are even holding out hope that he'll stay), then we're going to miss him.


eyebleaf said...

he was a beat against the Yanks and Sox this season. that's what i'll miss most, his domination against the empires. he was fighting the good fight against evil.

i thought vernon was 100% gone when he hit the market. perhaps AJ might stay, and perhaps it will be Doc that goes a long way in making that happen.

and you're right, he was a character. we need more of that. do we take a chance and show him the money like rod tidwell? it's a tough call, considering he's never thrown this many innings, ever. i'm worried he's due for a stint on the DL. but not worried enough to not want him back. i love him.

fuck, i'm rambling.

and doc's 10 times the man i'll ever be.

Brendan said...

Real men are comfortable enough with their sexuality to hug in any situation.

Pat Hentgen came back to us. I wouldn't have hugged him though, that's just gay.

-signed anonymously by the sexually confused anonymous guy-

Tao of Stieb said...

Err...brendan? You realize that you are not anonymous, right?

So gay.

Also, we prefer not to think of that Hentgen return to the Jays. Seeing him in the stupid black Jays cap just makes us sad.

Like David Lee Roth rejoining Van Halen.

Anonymous said...

this blog sucks.

Tao of Stieb said...

You suck.

The Ack said...

You know, I was listening to the broadcast on the radio when AJ was getting pulled, and Jerry & Alan's description of the event (the interaction between Cito & AJ on the mound, the fan reaction, the curtain call, the hugs) gave me goosebumps - seriously.

Is that lame?

Fuck you if you think that's lame.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

AJ is a mouthfucker, but he's our bitch! AJ is a Jay, not a Fish no doubt! Bring him back. And to the anon making snide comments, cocksucker go blow Jeter! Or better yet blow asshole mouth Papelbon. Capish? If not go back to Massholia and spread your asscheeks for Big Flappi, that big fat beast.

Darren Priest said...

If we're going to break the bank to keep AJ couldn't we at least kick the tires on Sabathia?

Play a little, CC! (betch you can't place that reference)

And this blog time when I should be working, that is!

The Ack said...


MK Piatkowski said...

I went trolling around the net today hoping that someone posted on video the walk-off, hugs and curtain call. Lame has an after-game interview that's pretty cool but no footage of this moment.

Does anyone know where to find it?

MK Piatkowski said...

Finding audio of Alan and Jerry calling it would be good too.

Anonymous said...

fuck it. pay the man whatever it takes.

josh said...

ROY OWNED today.
His hug with AJ was for more than 10 seconds wasn't it.
Am I gay for timing it?