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In an Alternate Universe, Joba Chamberlain Is Taking over for Mariano Rivera

TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees poses for a portrait during the New York Yankees Photo Day on February 27, 2012 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images
Paul Francis SullivanChief Writer IMay 4, 2012

The news from Kansas City is awful. The great Mariano Rivera might never pitch again.

His amazing career deserved a better conclusion. Either by clinching another title or letting one slip away would have been appropriate. But not slipping on the warning track in Kansas City of all cities.

The fans at Yankee Stadium on April 30th might have seen his last game. Rivera's longevity as a closer has been unparallelled. But age 42, the specter of his breaking down hovered over the Yankees.

But the Yankees were smart and prepared. Ever since Rivera was 37 years old (and basically on borrowed time) they had an emergency plan. That plan was called Joba Chamberlain.

Since he exploded onto the scene in 2007, Joba Chamberlain has had one purpose: To be the heir to Mariano's throne. The last five seasons, he has been a remarkable apprentice.

What one-two relief combination has been better than Joba in the 8th and Mariano in the 9th?

If opponents are unable to take the lead by the seventh, the game is all but over. The emergence of David Robertson shortened the games to six innings and kept the rotation fresh for the postseason.

The greatest debate among New York fans is which bullpen combination was better? Wetteland and Rivera? Rivera, Stanton, Nelson and Mendoza? Or Rivera and Joba?

Clearly, it is Rivera and Joba for the dominance and the length of time. Five complete seasons will be impossible to top.

Their wildly varied personalities made the combination even more striking. The wild child, free-spirit Joba and the calm spiritual Rivera was so visually appealing, if unpleasant for opposing batters. Not since Ruth and Gehrig have the Yankees had such an odd yet dominating duo.

NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 21: Mariano Rivera #42 (L) and Joba Chamberlain #62 of the New York Yankees shake hands after the last regular season game at Yankee Stadium on September 21, 2008 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees are playing their fi
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

The Yankees haven't had a mediocre closer since before the 1994 strike. Since the strike ended, they have closed out games with John Wetteland and Mariano Rivera. And now it is Joba Chamberlain's turn. He is ready for his proverbial close up.

Remember when some idiots were saying "Make Joba a starter?" Remember those people saying that putting him in the bullpen would be a waste of his talents?

Those same people were proposing that he be treated with kid gloves.. Evidently there were actual Yankee officials who devised "Joba Rules" that would take Chamberlain away from the role that he was a dominating force and force feed him into the rotation.

How foolish do they look now? Joba Chamberlain in the rotation? He was born to be a closer and anyone with two eyes could have seen that.

Now Joba's days of coming in for the 8th inning are done. Enter Sandman has been retired. The Joba Chamberlain era of closing begins now.

No doubt, this is not the way Joba would have wanted this job, but inside he is probably so excited that he looks like a kid jumping on a trampoline.

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