Joba the Whut?
For a guy who hasn’t lived in or even near NYC for two decades now (yikes!)—I am still a New York elitist. As much as my minimalist lifestyle allows, I pay attention to my old hometown via whatever media sources I can.
That’s why it pains me to say the New York Yankees & some NY sports hosts are idiots. Nothing says it more than the curious case of one young pitcher, Joba (pronounced Jah-bah, yes, like Jabba the Hutt) Chamberlain. Two seasons ago, Joba joined the Yankees at the major league level. He proceeded to become a cult hero as an emergency reliever, smoking out of the bullpen with a success rate of almost perfect, firing bb sized fastballs past batters & striking them out frequently, bats on their shoulder. However…
Chamberlain had been groomed as a starting pitcher in the Yankee farm system, one with a repertoire of four pitches, a valuable & desirable commodity. A lights out closer is a team’s dream. But strong starting pitching and a young pitcher at that, is rare, not to mention necessary. So, when the man, the myth, the legend Mo Sandman Rivera returned to his rightful place as the Yankees closer, Joba was tasked to begin his evolution into the Yankee starting rotation.
OK enough back story. Fluke injuries, gnats, heat for his fervor on the mound & a DUI/strip club related bust, oh yeah and some really bad first innings have reopened the debate. Joba starter or Joba reliever? But the Yankees have proven in the past (repeatedly), they have no clue how to bring along pitchers. In fact since Mel Stottlemyre was banished, a case could be made the franchise can’t even manage veteran hurlers. Injuries happen so often, Joba to the bully now might be a premature move waiting to happen if Chien-Ming Wang (in no pitcher’s land between rehab & redemption) can’t rebound & Phil Hughes remains a roller coaster of results.
One WFAN radio host— let’s call him Bullwinkle— challenges callers who want Joba in the pen by saying “are 21 starts for Joba enough” to determine his ability as a starting pitcher. Well, no one truly knows that answer. But the greatest closer in history, the aforementioned Mr. Rivera, only had ten — count ’em genius —10. So, why is this radio moron so adamant. Joba has had twice as many and he has proven all ready he can be amazing out of the bullpen. Rivera did not have such proven credentials when he was, at the time, demoted!
So, I love New York. But I lament the hubris of guys who can’t take in actual data and realize they might be barking up the wrong alley. Naturally, at this point no one even knows if Joba can return to his glory status as a reliever. Maybe he misses getting a beer buzz & seeing a few boobs. Because boobs they may be, those deciding his fate are not the same as cornfed mamas for a young man with a high hard one.*
* for non-baseball fans—a high hard one is a good major league fastball–or not…