The Yankees come into town tonight, and Toronto is abuzz* in anticipation of A.J. Burnett’s first visit back to Toronto since leaving to cash in in New York.

To recap: The Jays gave Burnett a $55 million contract in 2006 despite the fact that Burnett was an untested Tommy John protege with a history of locker-room disturbances.  He repaid the Jays’ misplaced generosity by immediately going on the disabled list.  2006 and 2007 brought twin 10-8 seasons, with a combined ERA of 3.98 (remember folks, these numbers are metric).

Lo and behold, 2008 was a contract year for Burnett, and if you guessed “out of character, ace-like numbers fueled by self-interest” then you guessed right.  Burnett finished 2008 with a 18-10 record, setting career highs in wins, innings pitched and strikeouts.  Not surprisingly (but still infuriatingly), Burnett repaid the Jays’ patience by dropping them like a dirty dishrag and cashing in with the Yankees to the tune of $82.5 million.

Burnett’s apparent indifference to team success, his willingness to discuss team business in front of the cameras, and the general “asshole” vibe he puts out make him a natural fit in Toronto’s pantheon of hated turncoat athletes, joining fan favourites Vince Carter, Bryan McCabe, and Tracy McGrady.

Then there’s Roy Halladay.  Hardworking.  Quiet.  Awesome.**  In a city that once clapped politely as Joe Carter’s World Series-winning walk-off home run cleared the left field fence, fans stand up an cheer for every groundball out that Halladay delivers.

 So how do Roy Halladay and A.J. Burnett compare?

Claim to Fame:

  • Halladay:  Former Cy Young Winner
  • Burnett:  Former Teammate of Cy Young Winner

Nickname:

  • Halladay:     “Doc”
  • Burnett:     “Sizzle”; “Herb Tarlek”

 Adjective:

  • Halladay:     “Workman-like”
  • Burnett:     “Woman-like”

Locker-room Presence:

  • Halladay:   A quiet leader who demands dedication and determination from junior players
  • Burnett:   An asshat locker-room cancer with all the leadership skills of an ottoman

Durability:

  • Halladay:   40 complete games. ‘Nuff said
  • Burnett:   Chrysler-like

Finish the Sentence: 

  • Watching Roy Halliday pitch is like…..watching an artisan at work
  • Watching A.J. Burnett pitch is like….watching an elderly man urinate

Interesting Trivia:

  • Halladay:     Erstwhile president George W. Bush once proclaimed Halladay to be the pitcher he would build a team around
  • Burnett:     Once went on the DL to prevent a hangnail

2009 Season Prediction:

  • Halladay:     Wins second Cy Young award, Jays win AL East
  • Burnett:     Literally eaten alive by Yankees fans

*As you might expect, “Toronto Abuzz” sounds like the dull humming of a refrigerator

**To say nothing of the fact that he looks an awful lot like Snake from Degrassi