Quality starts, not attitude and swagger, define an ace

I just stumbled upon a column on Johan Santana by Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports! titled Santana must learn leadership role and feel the need to rebut.

Passan in the column claims that a man carrying a $137.5 million contract should show some attitude and swagger and not be so laissez-faire about his responsibility to dominate.

“He is supposed to be an ace, and he needs to bag the humility and start acting like one,” Passan writes.

Frankly, that’s a bunch of hooey. An ace is there to eat up innings and put his team in a position to win every time he takes the mound – even when he doesn’t have his best stuff.

That’s exactly what Santana did Wednesday night. His arsenal of pitches was less than spectacular, yet he made the big throws when he needed to. The Mets’ bats woke up in the eighth, and the team got the win. In team sports, that is the point, isn’t it? Win the game?

To make his point, Passan in the column turns to quotes by Pedro Martinez, the starting pitcher who just the night before took a 7-0 lead and made it 7-5 before turning the ball over to a shaky bullpen for an inevitable loss. Well perhaps if Martinez had turned the ball a bit later in that game with the score 7-0 or 7-1, Wednesday’s game might not have turned out to be such a must-win.

To be fair, Passan does acknowledge the benefits of Santana’s “I do my job” attitude, but then he turns around and says that Santana’s reticence at this point in his career doesn’t bode well and he calls on Santana to be a hero.

Well a hero might provide a better storyline, but quality starts are a heck of a lot more important in September than attitude and swagger – even in the bright lights of the Big Apple.

Santana is leading; he’s leading by example. Mike Pelfrey and Oliver Perez are following.

Maybe Martinez should get on board as well.

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