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The Kind of Pie Burnett Doesn't Like

By Dustin Racioppi
9/2/09

This time it was A.J. Burnett who got a pie in the face — a home run from Orioles outfielder Felix Pie on Tuesday night.

The line drive blast was just part of the story of Burnett's recent struggles to command his pitches and keep the Yankees in the game (though they got the win, 9-6). Good A.J. — the one with a lightning fastball and ankle-breaking curveball — has not shown up to a Yankees game since Aug. 7 when he turned out a dazzling 7+ inning performance of one-hit, shutout ball. Since then, Yankees fans have seen Bad A.J. every fifth day, as he has offered career-worst outings and hasn't notched a win. He's nearing a 7 ERA in his last seven starts.

And what's more disturbing about Bad A.J. is how he reacts to getting legitimately knocked around when he takes the mound. There was the clear frustration in the pitch calling when David Ortiz took him deep a couple starts ago, when he mouthed "Why? Why? Why?" and set off a melee of controversy concerning he and Jorge Posada. Then last night, after he got his Pie in the face, Burnett appeared to make a gesture to Felix Pie that was, at least to the Orioles bench, chiding. If you caught the telecast — which I didn't — it was reported that he also had a choice word for Pie that is more common in Samuel L. Jackson's "Pulp Fiction" performance.

That kind of reaction, coupled with that kind of performance and the ones A.J. has given the Yanks the last month, is not worth $82.5 million. It's not even worth playing in the Major Leagues. Those actions are Bush League.

Not to say that's where A.J. Burnett belongs. But lately, he's making it a difficult case to argue.

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