May 7, 2010 5:45 AM
Johan Santana has bad breath.
Well, not really. Or maybe - I don't know - I've never gotten close enough to know for sure.
But what I do know is that when someone gets pegged as having bad breath, that's a label that doesn't go away for a while.
It kind of lingers - it leaves a mark. A stigma.
Just like the 10 runs allowed by Santana in his last start.
I pick bad breath as a point of comparison because it's something that I know. About eight years ago I briefly worked with someone who had terrible breath. I didn't know anything about the guy, haven't thought about him in years, until I wrote this. All I remember is that he had terrible breath. The experience has made me ultra-aware, though, of my own breath.
Sometimes I think I have bad breath. Maybe if you know me you already realize this. Or, hopefully, you don't, because I do my best to be preventative - mouthwash like the dickens, trying to be constantly aware of what others might think. I spend more time than maybe I should thinking about it.
I'm sure Santana has spent his share of time thinking about those 10 runs. I'm sure he's raring to go back out there and scrub it clean off his record.
But his next start, Saturday against the Giants, won't totally erase the stigma. It'll linger a few starts, because that last one was a bad one. It might last the whole rest of the year, especially if Santana continues to be less than dominant.
That's the thing about stigmas - they can linger. Just like the breath of that guy from eight years ago.
Same goes for Mike Pelfrey. His great run came to an end last Saturday with a pretty big clunker. If he comes back strong tonight against the Giants, he'll be OK. If he hits another road bump, we're talking stigma.
And now that I think about it, the Giants aren't lighting up scoreboards offensively, so maybe this isn't the start to earn back confidence in these guys - maybe it will be their next starts. See? It's starting already.
The good news for Pelfrey is that he's had more good starts than bad this year - so one good start might do it for him. Santana has a career track record that has earned him the confidence of the fans that last Sunday night was an aberration.
But I don't know about you...for me - once you get a whiff of that stinker, it lingers for a while.