Thursday, September 02, 2004

Aye, Papi!

My knowledge of the Spanish language goes no further than countless viewings of "Scarface," and the Spanglish version lyrics of Gerardo's "Rico Suave" and Mellow Man Ace's "Mentirosa," but it is my understanding that El Duque translated into English means: "Big Daddy stud pitcher who can thrive in the tough spot for the New York Yankees and make Fidel Castro want to shave his beard for letting him sneak out of the country."

Orlando Hernandez is the best pitcher in the Yankees' rotation and has been since he returned from reconstructive elbow surgery. His 11 mph curveballs from seven different angles are still unhittable and the fastball is approaching 90 mph. If you watch a game closely, Jorge Posada has to take off his catcher's mitt just to go through signs for all of El Duque's pitches.

His dominance this year (6-0, 2.62 ERA, 62 Ks in 58.1 IP) should come as no surprise to intelligent people with long-term memories not shortened by excessive partying in college. Some laugh when they hear or say that El Duque is the only trustable Yankee pitcher right now. Why does such laughter occur? Because he could be 83 years old?

The only laughing that should occur is when watching hitters try to hit the 18 mph floating, loopty-loo, gravity-does-exist, over-the-top curveball. They swing like they are the Gashouse Gorillas trying to hit against Bugs Bunny.

Then there's the postseason, where El Duque shines brighter than his shaved head on a day game at the Stadium. Peep the numeros: 9-3, 2.51 ERA, 97 IP, 73 H, 95 K. Stud!

Joe Torre should set up his rotation now so that El Duque starts Game 1 of the ALDS. Then he can throw an inning of relief in Game 3 (so as to avoid another Tom Gordon meltdown) and come back to start Game 4 and be available for Game 5.

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