SportsProf

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Saturday, September 04, 2004

Mighty Chris Young

Big day today in baseball. Red Sox, having a chance to once again close the gap on the Yankees, faced a rookie making only his third start in the majors. I posted about the kid a few weeks ago, a 6'10" righty in his third organization in four years, Chris Young, the one-time center of the Princeton Tigers' basketball team.

Young's first start went rather well in Texas, even if he didn't get the "quality start" stat against the Twins. He next faced the Orioles in the launching pad known as Camden Yards, and he had one of those ugly 4 1/3, 5 ER, 5H, 3W type of lines that might have caused a less patient or more timid manager to start some grey-at-the-temples veteran on his sixth major league team in the past 8 years with a career ERA of 4.89 and a winning percentage of .423 just because he's hoping and praying to get to his bullpen in the 7th inning.

No one would have blamed Buck Showalter if he did that, but he didn't, and he's in the middle of a wild card chase that no one had predicted for this team at the season's outset. No, Buck Showalter started Chris Young in Fenway Park against the fearsome BoSox lineup, and all the kid did was go 5 2/3 and give up 1 earned run, earning top props from his manager. And the Texas Rangers won 8-6.

So Chris Young could be a keeper after all.

And, in the meantime, the Yankees are on the ropes. Sure, they can hit, they always could, but their starting pitching is starting to resemble that of, say, the '67 Yankees instead of the '27 Yankees. Today, their 39 year-old would-be ace, the oft-injured Kevin Brown, did something that you would have thought only HS kids with mullets and souped-up old TransAms would do, or rookie ball HS phenoms who realize that kids a few years older actually can hit a curve ball.

He punched a wall in the clubhouse and broke his hand. Oh, yes, and the Yankees lost, 7-0, to Sidney Ponson and the Baltimore Orioles.

At least it was his non-throwing hand, but he might well be out for the rest of the season. Including the playoffs.

You don't have to have a degree from Princeton to know that you shouldn't punch a wall if you're a baseball player after a frustrating game. And Brown was a chemical engineering major at Georgia Tech, which is an excruciating major at any school.

But the rookie, Chris Young, kept his cool in front of the feisty partisans at Fenway today, while Kevin Brown, one of the best players of his generation, couldn't do the same.

Pressure?

Who would have thought that Chris Young wouldn't have felt it today as much as a former Cy Young winner?

No one.

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