Joba was everything and more that night. It was the spirit in his young eyes that does not come around that often.
Yankees Universe went totally crazy for this kid that night, even making losing the game bearable. Joba was the future, an authentic, talented, home-grown player that Yankee fans had been waiting for since 1996.
New York City saw Joba as the long and overdue messiah of our most coveted sports franchise. Finally, fans could be proud again.
Joba became a hero before learning how to be an MLB pitcher. Mind you, Joba hails from a small town in Nebraska, so imagine adjusting to New York. He was thrown into playing under baseball's biggest spotlight, facing the hard-ass NYC media and the expectations of the Yankees fan-base.
Even though, Joba came-up alongside his rookie buddy Phil Hughes, it was all about Joba. Hughes did not seem to mind being in Joba's shadow. In turn, Hughes was deemed as the less-talented, so he went out and earned the team's trust. Which has concluded to be Hughes greatest asset.
Joba had the pressure on his shoulders and the Yankees cut him no break. Joba was going to be a starter, as the Yankees went bananas by treating him like a baby.
All the attention caused a media spectacle, evaluating Joba's every move. The problem was that Joba's mistakes were not excused as a rookie with growing pains. The prematurely crowned star's errors were marked as failures, which was not fair and stunted his growth.
In 2009, the Yankees pushed Joba into the starting position but never let him stay in the game long enough to work his way out of tough situations. It made no sense after watching Joba succeed in the height of competition. This kid had a fist pump that rivaled New York Mets closer K-rod act.
Most MLB closers, other than the great Mariano Rivera who's humble spirit is rarefied air, get-off on the pressure of the game on the line. K-rod to Braxton to Papelbaum all have that same manner that Joba first had.
Now, the media, fans, and Yankees have tossed Joba in the bullpen after ruining his faith. Joba might not even admit to it, but it is the reason why he is struggling now and Phil Hughes is not.
It was just as obvious that Hughes had the mind-set of a starter, but the Yankees' determination to mold Joba into what was advantageous for them is what off-set his promise.
Joba has a powerful arm, as he features four pitches: a fastball-slide in the high 90's, a hard-breaking slider, a change-up that he has not been using as much and a change-up off-speed pitch.
A closer typically needs a hard fastball and a specialty pitch. Joba has forgotten how to command his slider because he worked on an off-speed pitch for left-handed hitters.
It never worked as Joba got rocked as a starter, while Phil Hughes kicked-butt in the bullpen. Joba ended 2009 with a 4.75 ERA and loaded the bases with his high walk-rate. Whenever he struggled, Joe Girardi pulled him. The rationale behind doing that is still a mystery to me.
Currently, Joba is struggling as Rivera's set-up guy in the eighth inning. I suppose it is difficult for him not to get on the mound that much, while watching Hughes become an All-Star and to see that he was voted most overrated player by an ESPN Magazine poll.
This kid has the goods to be great, I have witnessed it several times in person. The Yankees seem to feel no guilt. Yankee fans have the guts to boo him as he jogs out from the bullpen, and the media has turned on him as well.
What is the right thing to do?
An old saying comes to mind, “If you have nothing nice to say, do not say anything at all.”
Joba Chamberlain deserves to falter, while still hearing cheers by fans in the Bronx and if that is to hard for the "haters" then repeat the quote above.
The Yankees planned to put this kid on a pedestal, and handed him on a silver platter to the arctic NY media by exploiting "The Joba Rules."
Personally, I like Joba and always have stood by the conclusion that he will fill the shoes of Rivera remarkably well. I mean Sergio Mitre is treated more like a Yankee than Joba, but he is the teacher's pet.
Look, the point is it is our turn to get this right. Yankee Universe needs to be sensitive to Joba and make him feel necessary again. Just try and remember the kid we saw on the mound the day of the "bug" game.
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