Being a Yankee fan, I can easily find reasons to root against the Red Sox. But yesterday, believe it or not, I was cheering for the Boston Boys of Summer. Was it because it was Mother’s Day? No, but happy belated day to all you mothers out there (to paraphrase Ralph Kiner). Was it because I was taking some mind-altering substances? No, but I was hopped up on coffee and cake. It was because the Sox were going up against Carl Pavano of the Minnesota Twins. A man we like to call Carl “Take the Money and Sit on the DL” Pavano. The New York press used to call him “American Idle.”
Pavano started off being drafted by Boston in 1994, so right there is a reason to not like the guy (strike one). He ended up with the Florida Marlins and beat the Yankees in Game 4 in the 2003 World Series (strike two). When he becomes a free agent, the Yankees snatch him up. Keep your friends close and your enemies under contract. Pavano’s contract is close to $40 million for 4 years.
He starts the 2005 season for the Yankees quite nicely. He’s 4–2 over of ten starts, but injures his left shoulder and only makes seven more starts that year. We expect him to get healthy and be ready to go in 2006. But he starts off that season’s spring training on the DL with a bruised ass. (Believe me, I’m not making this up.) He spends the majority of the season on the DL and is supposed to be ready in late August. On August 28, the Yankees say, “Hey, Carl, we’re hoping you’ll be ready to start this Thursday’s game.” And he replies, “Oh, yeah, well, about that…. I ran my Porsche into some other car two weeks ago and broke two ribs. Won’t be pitching for a while.” (strike three)
Now it’s 2007 and he goes on the DL again during spring training with an elbow strain. And then a month later, it’s determined that he needs Tommy John surgery. Are you kidding me?!?! (strike four) After many months of rehab and minor league starts, he’s ready in August 2008 to start a game for the Yankees and he’s decent. But then in early September, he’s taken out of the game with a left hip injury, his last game as a Yankee. (strike five) The huge crowd at Yankee Stadium boos him and we all agree to badmouth him whenever we get the chance. Which is what I’m doing right now.
Ed Price of The NJ Star Ledger figured out these returns on his four-year, $39.95million contract:
26 starts (or $1,536,538.46 per start)
nine wins ($4,438,888.89 per win)
145 2/3 innings pitched ($274,256.29 per inning)
2,269 pitches ($17,606.88 per pitch)
One-and-a-half million per start?!?!? Not a bad salary for doing absolutely nothing. Sign me up for that!
So when I heard he was pitching against the Sox, I had no trouble cheering along with Red Sox Nation. The Twins actually took a 3-0 lead after the first inning, but Pavano couldn’t hold it and the Sox got to him often. After the game, Pavano complained, “I can’t even remember the last time I didn’t have any strikeouts in two starts in a row. Maybe I need to look at some tape and see if I’m doing something to tip them off.” I think he should have said that he couldn’t ever remember starting two games in a row. And you’re not tipping your pitches; you’re just a mediocre pitcher who enjoys earning a salary on the DL, instead of the field.
So when you add the Pavano loss to the huge Yankee win (Jeter hits two homers and Cervelli smashes a grand slam) and toss into the mix that the Bruins are still playing hockey and the Celtics are still alive against the Heat, it turns out that Boston’s a pretty good place to be right now.
It gets late early out there.