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It's too early to pass judgment

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When the NY Yankees signed pitcher CC Sabathia in the off-season, they had hoped his poor showing in the playoffs vs. Philadelphia was an aberration, and that he would revert to the dominant form he had in Cleveland and Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, it isn't an aberration. Not now, anyway. Sabathia was tapped as the opening day starter vs. Baltimore on Monday, and was shelled again. He left in the 5th with the Orioles up 6-1, but the Bronx Bombers couldn't quite catch up, losing 10-5. Not surprisingly, the tabloid press made a bigger deal out of it than it deserved to be. After all, it's just the first game of the season.

The problem is, New York sports fans are conditioned to be spoiled rotten, anticipating a championship every year, just because the Yankees have won 26 World Series titles, the last coming in a Subway Series vs. the Mets in 2000. Talk radio and the tabloid press feed into an overblown sense of entitlement, creating an exaggerated state of panic when expectations aren't met immediately.

Roughly translated, after getting beaten by Baltimore, Sabathia was roasted by an impatient fan base that should've known better.

The Mets' Oliver Perez made his first start earlier today vs. Cincinnati, and like Sabathia three days ago, couldn't get out of the 5th inning. Just when the Mets thought Perez had gotten himself back on track after a disaster vs. Boston last weekend, the Reds pounded him for four runs in the 3rd and four more in the 5th. The Met fans are used to this Jekyll-&-Hyde routine from Perez, and certainly are asking themselves why GM Omar Minaya opted to re-sign him in the first place.

That having been said, the Yankee faithful should expect the same "Forrest Gump" box of chocolates approach with Sabathia over the course of the season. One start does not a season make, and Sabathia has time on his side to get it back together. He'd established himself as an elite pitcher, and that's all the lure the Steinbrenner family needed to sign him. They want to think of the playoff meltdown as a case of an ace having a bad day on the mound. It happens all the time. If you pitch in New York, however, it's not an option.

Consider the World Champion Phillies for a moment. The lustre of their first championship in nearly 30 years was worn off on Sunday when the retooled Atlanta Braves stated their case for reclaiming the NL East pennant which has been out of their hands for 3 seasons. Philadelphia avoided a sweep Wednesday by rallying to beat Atlanta, 12-11. Was there any panic in Philadelphia? Maybe, and it wouldn't be normal if there wasn't in this day and age.

It's still just the first week of the season. In six months, we'll know if the early jitters had any long range effects. For now, just consider the sage advice of that reclusive philosopher, W. Axl Rose: "All we need is just a little patience".
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