You be cocky and arrogant, even when you're getting beat. That's the secret. You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance. -- Crash Davis
The doubters have had a lot of fun with the notion of Yu Darvish's vast assortment of offerings. Suddenly, there's nothing funny about it.
I won't break down the numbers here. Joey's already done that for you. No matter how you slice up the numbers from Darvish's manhandling of the Yankees lineup, they look incredibly impressive.
Perhaps what was most impressive -- and what I want to talk about -- was the arrogance. Darvish is a staggeringly arrogant man. And I mean that in the best of ways.
You saw a hint of it here and there over the past month and a half. You'd catch a look on his face and think, this guy knows he's going to dominate. And last night, he walked out there with that attitude and it never left him.
Aside from one misinterpreted quote in spring training after his Cactus League debut, Darvish has demonstrated solid command of the Crash Davis cliche' notebook, but he still manages to drop hints that he's a badass ninja who has come to blow your baseball mind:
"After my last start, I mentioned my command is starting to come together. Stuff-wise, there wasn't much difference," Darvish said through his interpreter. "I still like to think that there's still more in me."
See what he did there?
On the surface? Humble. But anyone who does that to that Yankees lineup and then goes off and talks about how it was just something to build on is one arrogant SOB.
Yes. Don't get too excited about how he manhandled the second most dangerous lineup in baseball folks. That wasn't really his best. Just scratching the surface right now.
I commented to a friend in March that Darvish's arrogance was going to be worth two outs a game and last night, he proved me right. Darvish's arrogance -- and his brilliance -- was never more evident than it was in the pivotal third inning where the Yankees loaded the bags and came up empty.
"Somehow I have to get Curtis Granderson out. ... Somehow, I just wanted (Rodriguez) to hit the ball on the ground." Which, of course, is exactly how it went down. And then, without showing anyone up, Darvish subtly and arrogantly basked in the moment, admiring his work on the giant vigeo board and gently clapping for himself as he swaggered back to the dugout.
Watching the last two nights of baseball, I can't help but think about what separates Darvish from Derek Holland right now. Separated in age by less than a month, and both with the physical gifts to become a true Ace, they seem years apart in maturity.
When Darvish got himself into a jam against the dangerous Yankees, he had the mind to know how to get out of trouble and the arrogance to pull it off - getting Alex Rodriguez to hit into a double play, just as he wanted. When Holland got in a similar bind on Monday, he let the game get away from him -- giving up a three-run dinger to Alex Rodriguez.
Is it a matter of luck? Maybe. Or is it the difference between a guy with the mind of an ace (e.g. Bob Gibson, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson...Nolan Ryan, etc.) who can bend the game to his will and a funny, insecure kid who lacks the arrogance to stare down Alex Rodriguez at a pivotal moment and come out on top? Was Darvish's showdown with Rodriguez over before it started? Was Holland's?
I can tell you that when Rodriguez stood in against Holland in the fifth on Monday, I had a bad feeling and when he stood in against Darvish last night, I had a good feeling. I'll bet that most of you joined me in having far more confidence in Darvish at that moment than Holland.
The Ace will have a bad start here or there, but when the light shines brightest, his arrogance will not allow him to fail. We've seen it here before, but not often. We saw it for a couple of months in 2010. Cliffly had that arrogance of an Ace. C.J. Wilson pretended he had it, wanted to have it, but never really had it as he proved in the postseason.
This wasn't the playoffs, it wasn't the World Series, but for a lot of reasons it was a bigger than normal stage for an April game between division leaders and Darvish announced pretty strongly that he has Ace arrogance in spades and the stuff to back it up.