It was great to get back yesterday afternoon from a terrific vacation and just kind of sit back and unwind while I watched a few baseball games on the MLB package. Being that I was out of range for a little while, I missed the Sox continue to play .600 baseball and still lose ground to the Yanks, I missed the return of Sheff and all the other nonsense with playoff races in other divisions that I don't really care about. So it was nice to catch up on all of that. But what I was most surprised to learn I had missed was the advent of "Joba-mania" that apparently swept the nation in my one week absence from the sports world. Yeah, I know. I must've been living under a rock for the past week because Michael Kay told me yesterday that Joba Chamberlain had come in and not only swept NYC off its proverbial feet but the nation as well. He went on to say that Joba's appeal was similar to that of 1981's Fernandomania. Kay asserted that because the Yanks sell out every stadium they go to anyway (the Blue Jays, D-Rays and O's must be ecstatic about this information considering the September matchups with the Yanks aren't even halfway to sellout status at this juncture), Joba won't have the same effect on visiting stadium attendance that Fernando had but otherwise the buzz around their appearances are almost identical. What? You say you don't know of this "Joba Chamberlain"? Well how can that be? I mean, Michael Kay didn't exaggerate because he has fallen in love with this guy, has he? Well let's see.
In a cursory examination of all the articles written about "Joba Chamberlain" in the last 30 days (courtesy of Google News), only two were written about him outside of the NY metro area (one in Nebraska, where Joba spent his short college career and the other was for some reason in the Winnipeg Sun). Now granted, in the greater NY area, there is a significant buzz about Chamberlain. Just today he got the full page treatment on the back of the Post. But to say a young middle reliever is somehow capturing the nation's attention in a unique manner and is on the same level as Fernando Valenzuela who basically led a latin baseball revolution in the 1980's is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS. A guy like Joba Chamberlain who comes in an throws mid 90's with a cartoonish slider, while a very good thing for the Yanks, is not unique. This happens EVERY FUCKING YEAR, Michael. Some young guy comes up throwing gas, is usually thrown in middle relief somewhere and that town loses their collective minds over him: Zumaya, Papelbon, Frankie Fucking Rodriguez, Frankie Liriano, before Liriano there was Johan Santana, Brandon McCarthy, Bobby Jenks, Huston Street, Felix Hernandez, Aaron Heilman, Edwin Jackson, Derrick Turnbow, Rich Harden, and let's not forget your own Kyle Farnsworth, who with the Cubs was the f'n second coming when he came out throwing 100mph cheese that no one could catch up with if you gave them a 3 second head start. And those are all in the last 5 years. Now don't get me wrong, Chamberlain has been unreal in his first 7 innings (yes, he's only pitched 7 innings so far). He's faced 22 batters so far and only 9 of those guys put the ball in play (he's only given up 2 hits). That's remarkable and if he keeps it up he'll be the most dominant player in the history of any sport. If Michael Kay believes that's what the future holds for Chamberlain, then more power to him. But if he thinks that Joba has garnered more attention on the national stage as a middle reliever who has not factored into any game as the winner or closer than Papelbon, K-Rod or Zumaya at the same points in their careers, he has lost his frickin mind.
*Above picture may not actually be Michael Kay