Joba Chamberlain: Celebration is Part of the Game

TJ BuzzeoCorrespondent IMay 21, 2008

Since the baseball season has started one of the most talked about topics has been Joba Chamberlain celebrating after he ends the inning for the Yankees. If you do not know what I am talking about, here is a good example.

Joba’s actions have upset some that think he is taking it too far. They think that he is getting too excited, and overacting to rather minuscule situations very early in the season.

Others, like me, think that it is not that big of a deal. I know what you’re thinking, my opinion is bias because I am a Yankee fan, and you may be right. 

While thinking back about the past, I have realized I have always had a bias.  Back in 1996, I was 100 percent positive that Jeffery Maier’s interference would not have mattered in Game One of the 1996 ALCS. (You do not have to watch the whole video to see what I am talking about, but it is pretty funny).

I also defended (or maybe better put believed) Roger Clemens, and said that he was not throwing the bat at Mike Piazza, but throwing it to the on-deck circle. (Give me a break, it's good enough).    

Look, there are many examples in sports of people taking celebratory dances much farther than Joba. A few things come to mind: Johnnie Morton’s doing “the Worm”, Antoine Walkers “shimmy”, and of course, Warren Sapp’s impression of Beyoncé. No one can say that Joba’s extensive fist pump is even close to some of these elaborate celebrations.

Another reason why I do not have a problem with Joba is because it is all emotion with him. Nothing is pre-planned like former relief pitcher Al Hrabosky “The Mad Hungarian” who made a show out of every appearance he made. Or like current Red Sox closer Jonathon Papelbon’s Irish jig, which by the end of the World Series last year was not only expected, but accepted as well.

Now that I am trying to quiet down all of the Red Sox fans who are against what Joba is doing, I will keep going with my comparison of Joba to Papelbon.

Over the past couple of seasons, the baseball world has been commending the Red Sox for putting such big tasks on such a young player. Everybody who covers baseball says that besides Papelbon’s electric stuff, part of the reason he is so successful is that he brings energy to the game, and how that youthful energy helped the Sox win the World Series in 2007.

Those same people have said that is why Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman did not trade some of his young players for Johann Santana, to try to create the energy the Red Sox had last season, or better yet re-create the energy the Yankees had in the mid-to-late '90s.   

While Joba is not the closer, he does the same thing, and did that last year to help spur the late season rally the Yankees went on to end 2007, and if that fist pump helps, then why not do it?

Do not get me wrong, when Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” comes on over the P.A. system the stadium erupts(amateurs). But just like Mo in 1996, there is a freshness that Motley Crue’s “Shout at the Devil” (the entrance song for Joba) brings to the table. 

My final reason in defense of Joba is that he only does it after big strikeouts. I have never seen him do it after a groundout or flyout. Also, he does it only in tight games where a big hit could make a difference for the other team. His fist pumps also come out when he strikes out big hitters such as Frank Thomas and J.D. Drew.

All of this talk about what types of celebration is appropriate, and what is taken too far, got me thinking about the classiest celebrations in sports. I came up with a list of my top five. I wanted to come up with more, but really could not, so if you know of any others let me know.

5) 1999 Women’s World Cup, Brandi Chastain

I know this may be somewhat controversial because she took off her shirt, but this was in no way a sexual act or wardrobe malfunction, but just a pure act of emotion. Chastain was probably trained everyday for 20 years to become a great soccer player, and then when she was put in this situation, all of the training was paid off.   

The other reason I love the Chastain celebration is because of how much it is parodied. From that moment up until my sophomore year of high school (my last year of Phys. Ed.) not one class went by where someone would score a goal immediately they would take off their penny and try to duplicate Chastain.

4) DeMario Anderson Says Goodnight

I know you probably do not remember DeMario, or him making No. 1 on SportsCenter’s “Top Plays”. However, as a student of Quinnipiac University, I remember the play vividly, and the after effect on campus when everyone had “DeMario Fever”.

Anyways, getting back to the celebration. If you watch the play again, DeMario did not celebrate much in the clip, and that’s because, as you probably noticed, he ran off the court and into the locker room.

Talk about class. DeMario had every reason to rub it into Central Connecticut State’s face. Both team needed the win to improve their NEC playoff seeding. Quinnipiac and Central are in-state rivals, and by making the basket, DeMario snapped the Blue Devils' eight-game win streak against the Bobcats. Plus, it was in overtime. Oh, and if that is not enough reason for DeMario to stick in the faces of Central, he transferred from Central to Quinnipiac.

However, DeMario took Jake Taylor’s (Tom Berenger’s character in Major League) advice and did not celebrate in front of someone who just died. This was a great move and more should follow his example.

3) Hockey Players after a Goal

Mark it down in history. I am going to compliment hockey, or I should say, male figure skating. I hope Berg reads this because it may be the only time I write about hockey.

No matter what team, no matter who scores the goal, you see the rest of his teammates on the ice (with the exception of the goalie) come rushing over to him, hugging him and giving him high fives. I think this is really cool because it shows real camaraderie amongst teammates. Even if it is not a real friendship between the players, you never see them treat each other like how the Yankees treated Reggie Jackson during his playing days.

I think that is enough hockey for one lifetime (interesting side note I was the beat writer for my high school’s hockey team).  

2) The Lambeau Leap

The reason the Lambeau Leap is on here is because it gives something back to the fans. As a fan that lives and dies with his sports teams (more dieing than living these days), I love it when players give something back.

During this current NFL season, it reached a point where I felt like the Miami Dolphins were giving up on the season and trying to lose all 16 regular-season games. It got to the point where I was going to three masses a week, praying for a win, or at least a sign of life from the team I love so much. I felt betrayed, as if the Dolphins were a girlfriend that had been cheating on me, until they finally proved otherwise.

While watching the Packers, I noticed that what the Packers are doing after scoring touchdowns at home are not for them, but for the fans. The fans are the ones that deserve something out of their athletes. Especially in today’s sports world when every time you turn around you have to hear about which athletes are getting arrested, getting caught with steroids, or whatever other wrong things athletes do.

The Lambeau Leap is a positive way in which the fans interact with the players. I just think that it is really awesome that Green Bay players give something back to their fans.   

1) Bernie Williams Thanks God

I know this is horrible that I could not find a video or picture of Bernie kneeling in a victory celebration. So, I will try to draw it for you.

Picture a 2000 version of Mariano Rivera (less gray hair and a consistent five miles more on the gun) facing Mike Piazza (one of the top-five right-handed hitters in the game at the time). Piazza takes a pitch from Mo deep to left center, and for a split second, the entire New York area stops breathing, only to switch camera angles and see Bernie Williams settling underneath the ball, about three steps before the warning track. Bernie catches the ball and immediately goes down on one knee and gives the sign of the cross.

You probably think that I am some sort of religious nut now, but you know, no matter what religious denomination, I think one can appreciate Williams’s actions. How many famous people thank God for all that they have accomplished? Many do; however, few actually show their praise for God in public and Bernie does, which is remarkable. I think this being number one is pretty much self-explanatory.