Dear AJ Burnett,
Thank you for saving the 2011 baseball season for the New York Yankees. I didn’t think you could do it. I held a rather fatalistic attitude going into Game 4 but somehow you pulled it off and you should be very proud.
Sure, you had a lot of fantastic defensive help, namely from your centerfielder Curtis Granderson, who got you out of a major jam in the first inning when it looked like the bad AJ appeared on the mound in an elimination game. And your manager Joe Girardi finally made the right call on pulling you, wasting no time when you let a runner on base in the sixth inning. But you deserve a tremendous amount of credit for all the zeros you put up in the innings in between, not always trying to strike guys out and letting your defense back you up, which it did to perfection.
What makes you great at times also makes you the most frustrating pitcher to watch. We know that you are supremely talented. We know that you are capable of throwing a terrific game like you did last night every time you take the mound. If we are too hard on you, that’s probably the reason why. It’s not that we hate you. We don’t. We want you to do well. We just want to see that tough guy who showed up on the mound when the Yankees needed him the most a lot more often.
I’m not going to apologize for doubting you. You have given Yankees fans a lot of reasons to doubt you, as you yourself have acknowledged. But I will happily admit to being wrong about you, at least for one night. Thanks for getting the Yankees to Game 5. And get yourself ready for the American League Championship Series because I believe your protégé Ivan Nova is going to get us there on Thursday.