Double Door Baby Gate - It's something to be labeled based on your own results. It's yet another matter to succumb to that particular label as easily as A.J. Burnett did this weekend. His behavior on Saturday was a clear indication that not only does he pitch with all or nothing results, but he also tosses with an all or nothing mentality. And the worst part is, he shows no signals of fighting to rid himself.
Instead of seeing this weekend as a way to prove he can claw and scrape to maintain his team despite a poor beginning in a game, Burnett let his emotions get the top of him. This weekend it became increasingly obvious that Burnett does not have want or the focus to pitch in grind-it-out conditions. It appears that he feels if he doesn't have a stone going by the second inning, what is the point?
At 33, Burnett should also understand a few other things. When things get tough, he should understand that most great sportsmen rise to challenges and bear down. He should understand that it's the job to provide his team an opportunity to win every time he takes the mound of every starting pitcher. He doesn't have to control in every trip. Sometimes his job will be to maintain the game close. Sometimes his job will be to maintain his own offense.
Most of all, it's a starting pitcher's job to provide effort each and every time he's called on to pitch. This doesn't just mean physical effort. This means mental exertion. Suck it up like Burnett did on Saturday in case you give up an early lead and give your team the opportunity to come back. Don't let your machinists get slack as a result of lost focus and concentration. And surely, don't lose control of your emotions.