Previewing Spring Training Game 1, Pittsburgh @ NYY, 1:05

Pre-season is still "season," in my head. So I'd like to abolish the "pre" prefix, to assert myself strongly in the belief that baseball starts at 1:05 today.

Good God, it's about time.

Today, Chad Gaudin gets the ball against Paul Maholm, who may look back on this game as the most hyped and significant game of his career.

Chad Gaudin, who mercifully has been identified as the Yankees' 5th starter (as opposed to the We-have-3-working-pitches-between-the-2-of-us-do-with-that-what-you-will pair of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes), gets charged with throwing the first pitch of the Yankees' season.

Of course.

A few points about Gaudin:

1.) Because he is such a bizarro yet steady cog, and more importantly, because he is a Yankee, he avoids any of my contempt when it comes to athletes whose names are pronounced absolutely nothing like the way they are spelled. For some reason, Chone Figgins and Bill Mueller draw my ire to irrational degrees, but Gaudin is totally acceptable.

2.) I absolutely LOVE the fact this random late season pickup boasted the stat of the Yankees winning every game he pitched. It makes zero sense. Actually, his 3.43 ERA on the Yanks was the 2nd best of his career, beat only by his 3.09 in 2006 while on Oakland. His 2-0 record with us is one of my favorite B-list stats of the year.

3.) I'm not sure how many innings our 5th starter will actually toss, since according to Yankees.com, "Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves, Jonathan Albaladejo, Wilkins Arias, Jason Hirsh, Royce Ring, Amaury Sanit and Zack Segovia have been instructed to be at the ready." The first 3 guys I know. The last 5 could be the finalists from last year's Scripps Spelling Bee for all I know. 

A few points about Paul Maholm:

1.) His page on Baseball-Reference.com is sponsored by something called "Pirates WFC Blog." Which used its sponsorship space to aver, "Maholm, Duke and Ohlendorf are the Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz of the 2010s. Prepare for the Pirates' impending World Series championship now by reading the Pirates WFC blog." THE PIRATES IMPENDING WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP.

Impending? As in "hovering threateningly"? As in "imminent"? It actually would sound just as weird to say "Yankees impending WS Championship" because, well, it's March. The only thinking impending is the need to recharge my computer's battery.

2.) Maholm hasn't had a winning season since 2005, when he went 3-1.

3.) His stats make him sound like he's a washed up middle-aged also-ran, a la Matt Herges. He's 27.

4.) In 2007, he ranked 2nd in the NL in shut-outs. One.

5.) In 2008, he made $424,500. In 2009, he made $2,500,000. Apparently going from 10-15 to 9-9 is grounds for a 589% raise in the NL. It makes me a little less bitter about the whole if-I-only-did-.300-of-my-job-I'd-get-fired thing.

Yankees.com also tells us that Girardi will "definitely" play Curtis Granderson in several games this spring. Well. I should hope so? Girardi is really coddling us these days. First, he assures us he is NOT going to go with a 3-man rotation in spring training. Then last night, pulls a Johnny Moxon and takes the team out to an arcade. And now, he makes the bold statement that he absolutely is going to play his biggest off-season acquisition occasionally before the official games start.

It's spring training, I'm okay with being spoon-fed stuff. Soon enough, we'll all be in the Bronx, where the crowd, weather, atmosphere, and everything else, is a bit different than the sunny skies, affable crowds, and skee ball machines of Tampa.

Here we go. Today it starts. Technically, today's game against the Pittsburgh Pirates will not in any way affect how the Yankees season pans out, won't affect their standings or record.

But I've said it before, and I'll say it again.

Every game counts. Otherwise you wouldn't take the field.

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