ybe it’s time we started thinking of Sabathia as one of those rare aces.
Sabathia is 29, he’s started at least 28 games nine years straight, has reached double-digit wins every season and has gone 19-7, 17-10 and 19-8 the last three years, with the Indians, Brewers and Yanks. He’s got 136 career victories and is just hitting his prime.
"I don’t know about mentioning me with those guys,” Sabathia said. "I’ve got a lot of work to do. Maybe in a couple of years, you can put me in that group.”
But he’s got the look now.
"He’s an athlete,” said baseball Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins, who always is a part of the Spahn gala. "The media doesn’t bother him. He had a mission. Something to prove. Plus he’s got great stuff.
"Same with Randy Johnson. It takes a certain individual. When you’re an athlete, put the uniform on, it’s time to pull it all together. Some guys can do it. Some guys can’t.”
The New York pressure is very much real. The most intense media microscope in America resides at Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner scrutiny — for almost 40 years George, now his lippy son Hank — is worse. And if you happen to survive the New York Post and Prince Hank, the fans, the most knowledgeable and vile in sport, await.
But Sabathia did what great pitchers do. Took it all in stride and fashioned a season as worthy of his paycheck as possible.
"It was better than I thought it was going to be,” Sabathia said. "Best year I’ve ever experienced. All the tradition ... nothing like hearing that ‘New York, New York’ song.”
Here’s another Gotham song that better fits Sabathia. "New York State of Mind.” His is right where it should be to be among baseball’s greatest pitchers.
405-760-8080; Berry Tramel can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.