My first job out of high school was flagging cars for a road crew. If you've never done it, trust me here: It's the pits. It's quickly made clear that you are last chicken in the barnyard, and your only respite from the car exhaust and driver scowls is when the boss condescendingly sends you for coffee. You are the 40th man on the Padres roster, and at any moment, you can be replaced by Joe Mantiply.
Which brings me to Meredith Marakovits, whom I have come to appreciate. As the YES "sideline girl," she represents the old-school pro announcer, who never played the game and thus cannot claim to know what Jacoby Ellsbury is thinking out there, which is fine with me, because I don't give a whit. She simply interviews players and spits back what they said. I wish they'd let her in the booth, rather than be stuck near the dugout, flagging cars.
Yesterday, in her brief round-up, Meredith recalled a conversation with Michael Pineda, following his historic, masterful two-innings of shutout dominance on Saturday. (Note: I am NOT speaking ill of Pineda, having pledged to give him full measure of my confidence.) For reasons I cannot quickly outline, Pineda has been anointed one of the Yankee "Big Three" starters. Last year, in case you forgot, he went 6-12 with an ERA of 4.82. I am NOT saying anything bad about Big Mike. We're hoping for a big year.
But Meredith noted that Pineda says he has ferreted out what went wrong last season, and the year before, and the year before that. If you recall, Pineda would be cruising like Roger Clemens through the first few innings, and then, suddenly, he would turn into Sir Sidney Ponson, the pride of Aruba. Often, the transformation happened with two outs and nobody on base. He would walk a guy, give up a hit and then a three-run shot. And here's why, according to Pineda: He would try to "hurry" that final out. Rather than take his time and slow-cook the meal with his superior powers and abilities, far beyond those of mortal man, Pineda rushed himself, made mistake and, thus, went 6-12 with an ERA of 4.88.
This year, he plans to take his time. Problem solved. Don't worry, Yankiverse, the mystery of Michael Pineda is over. And from now on, be nice to the flag man. It's a drag out there, waving along the breeze, and not even getting to report the big news.