Last night’s baseball contest was one of the more enjoyable I’ve watched this season. As I begrudgingly left my TV and couch for the more productive radio and riding lawn mower, I was enthralled and enthused by the rain-soaked game in New York. The victory brought the fellows in the Royal a half-game closer to first, but somehow a whole lot closer to respectability.
There was an element last night of being clubbed over the head by the Greatness Of The Yankees. Steve Physioc could barely contain himself and seemed as if he was just itching for someone to say something bad about Derek Jeter so he could rip their heart out of their chest and make the victim watch.
But however hard those paid to watch the game tried to tell me that I should bow down in the presence of what was clearly a superior grouping of men, it fell flat. It seemed as if the Royals got the same message. The Yankees aren’t a team to be feared, but rather a team that is over-paid and relying on their uniforms to do the work for them.
On the other side of the field, the less-storied and certainly less full of recent Greatness just did what they do. They played solid defense, they hit the ball and they had a lights out bullpen. The one unique item of note was a starting pitcher who pitched deep into the game and did so while dominating. Felipe Paulino was the star of the show last night.
Those same Yankee admiring announcers leveled what is clearly the faintest of praise upon Paulino when suggesting that he had earned the role as Bruce Chen’s subordinate. Which begs the question of which planet said announcers have been inhabiting the past two years. This Paulino character is unquestionably the best pitcher on this baseball club and as they say in the parlance of the game –The Ace.
In his four starts this season, Paulino has given up earned runs in only one. Had he not started the season with an injury and continued on his current pace, he would be a top 5 pitcher in nearly every major statistical category. His name would be nestled in with the Verlanders and Greinkes of the world. But alas he resides within the large likeable shadow of Bruce Chen.
I’m sure there are some of you out there defending the surprisingly tall PanamAsian who is quick with the joke. It’s quite natural, and in fact he has been a great pitcher. However he has not been the equal of the more mysterious and not surprisingly tall Dominicano. While Paulino has no tag-line created by a generation dominating comedian, he does have the ability to strike out a batsman. Which in the game of baseball pulls a bit more weight.
Combining the past two seasons, Paulino leads his Royal brethren in fWAR, ERA, FIP,xFIP and K/9. These acronyms are the mark of an ace, certainly one on his own team and nearing one for the entire league. Yet alas, he is still a second class citizen to many. It was mere weeks ago that one paid blowhard suggested that Paulino would bring nothing to this team and that he was not even an average pitcher. It’s sadly an opinion shared by many.
It’s time to give Paulino what he has earned and crown him Ace. It’s time that we stopped taking our cues from the Jeter worshipers and the paid blowhards. Take a look at the results, they’re undeniable. Felepe. Paulino. Royal. Ace.