Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Weathermen

Weathermen have a pretty interesting job. They get a first row seat on what is going on in the world and get to watch it happen. Sometimes though, weathermen get bored. Take Florida for example. How many different ways can you say each and every day that it will be partly sunny today and 89 with a chance of afternoon showers? It's no wonder then that they get all excited about a hurricane. Weathermen love hurricanes like firemen love fires. They get beside themselves with giddiness at the projections and possible paths the storm might take. Of course, they do the obligatory duty of telling people to get out of harms way, but you understand and get the feeling that secretly, they hope a big one hits so they can be a part of it. Meanwhile, the viewers...the ones that rely on those weathermen are fraught with concern and watch with impending doom hanging over their heads and drape themselves over every word the weathermen say.

Wait. You thought this was a baseball blog. It is! The first paragraph is a simple English ploy called an analogy. What the first paragraph set up was the idea that the ESPN announcers tonight, O'Brien and Sutcliffe, were the weathermen. The storm they were watching was A. J. Burnett. They dragged up the dirty numbers and pored over all the data. They watched for every indication that Burnett might turn into a fury of base runners and runs for the Oakland Athletics. You could almost sense their anticipation. They were hanging on every Burnett pitch. Sutcliffe was the senior weather guy like that guy they go to in Florida with the bald head that always has the charts in his hand. Sutcliffe was just waiting for the perfect storm to blow onshore.

Yankee fans, meanwhile, were those viewers fraught with concern and were watching with impending doom hanging over their heads and cringed at every statistic and every base runner. Was another game with Burnett pitching going to go down the drain? And you can't blame the fans a bit. Burnett had such a bad August (and June) that the worst could only be expected. Imagine the hope that built inside them after the first two scoreless innings. But then the storm started veering back in dangerous waters. Kouzmanoff hit a two run homer. Burnett walked the guy after that. A few innings later, he again got in trouble and allowed a third run to score making it a 4-3 Yankee lead. The weathermen were ready to sound the warnings. They were ready. The viewers were tied up in knots.

And then a funny thing happened. The storm passed over. Somehow the storm called Burnett got through the sixth inning and the Yankees were still ahead. The viewers looked up at the skies and saw stars instead of clouds. It was a miracle!

But you could tell some of the wind had gone out of the weatherman's sails. They said at the end of Burnett's night that he struggled for six innings. They didn't understand how the storm didn't hit the mainland. But knowing the fine line between taste and poor taste, a weatherman would never state that he was disappointed that the big storm didn't happen. They trot out the old line of, "dodging a bullet." But you can tell that they were deflated a bit. Senior weatherman, Sutcliffe, did, somewhat begrudgingly mention at the end of the game that Burnett can build on the victory.

For the viewers, it was akin to walking out of the in-ground shelter. The blinked and saw that the house was still standing.

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