Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Hurts So Good
2008-05-07 05:50
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to
"You gotta attack all the time," [Joba Chamberlain] said in a contrite tone. "You can't take a pitch off. You never think you're doing that, but you should attack more with the fastball. I didn't attack the zone as much as I should have." (John Harper, N.Y. Daily News)

Joba Chamberlain's face was puffy and sweaty, his eyes glassy and red-rimmed.  His head had just been in his hands, his fists balled, grabbing at his cropped hair.  A white towel hung over his head and his large chin jutted up.  Sitting on the bench, it looked as if he was going to burst out bawling and for the first time her truly looked like Joba the Hutt.  I thought about Chamberlain's father, Harlan, who has been ill this spring.  I thought about how he had just shook his catcher off several times.  Then I thought, dag, this has never happened to the kid before.  

"Everybody gets tested in this game," said David Cone on the YES broadcast.  "Nobody is invincible.  We knew this would happen sooner or later.  The real test is in how he'll react next time out."   

Pinch-hitter Dave Dellucci turned around a 96 mph fastball from Chamberlain and yanked it into the seats in right field, dealing Chamberlain his first ego-crushing blow in the big leagues.  Not his first lost, but the first big blast.  There were no midges this time.  Everything was set up according to plan.  Pettitte kept the team in the game, Farnsworth got two big outs in the seventh and Chamberlain came on in the eighth with a one-run lead.  As Cone noted, Chamberlain didn't necessarily make a bad pitch, it's just that Dellucci guessed right and beat him to the spot like a basketball player running to a place on the floor, setting his body and picking up an offensive foul. 

It was reminiscent of George Brett turning around the Goose's high heat though not as dramatic.  Dellucci, who was briefly a Yankee, and who still uses the theme from "The Godfather" as his intro music, smiled broadly as he was greeted by his teammates.  If I could sit on my ass all night, then come off then bench and turn around Kid Dynamite's heater like that, hell, I'd be grinning too.

Chamberlian's outing started poorly when he walked Grady Sizemore on a 3-2 slider.  Joba shook off his catcher Jose Molina twice to get to his breaking pitch.  With one out, he issued another walk, this time to Jhonny Peralta.  But, Cone added, it was an "unintentional intentional walk," as the Yankees were not going to go after Peralta, who had homered earlier against Andy Pettitte.  Molina came out to the mound several times, there was also a meeting with the pitching coach, and Chamerlain threw more curve balls than usual. 

It was a humbling moment for the dynamic young Chamberlain but one where Cone, who is starting to find a rhythm as a color man, rose to the occasion.  Cone's voice is raspy but not deep or commanding.  At first, it is flat and indistinguishable from that of John Flaherty or Al Leiter.  Cone seemed ill-at-ease initially, unpolished.  But I've found his insights to be sharp and compelling--he was all over Pettitte in Cleveland for telegraphing a change up that was rocked for a home run.  Not in a critical beatdown way, just as an observation.  I think Michael Kay deserves some credit for guiding Cone and breaking him in.

When Kay reported Ian Kennedy's impressive line from his triple A start, Cone said that IPK got the message.  That turned out to be the best news on a night where the Yanks lost, 5-3.  Again, it was a game that appeared to be drawn up perfectly.  Only this time, Joba stumbled and so did the Yanks.   

2008-05-07 07:10:57
1.   Just fair
The talk in recent months is that Joba has the perfect make-up to be a closer. Does last night disprove that? . Is Joba's hair pulling akin to Paul O'Neill's cooler kicking? Man, I am surprised he did not have clumps of hair in his fingernails. Is that why Mo has so little hair left? : ) Well, I can appreciate the complete and utter frustration he was showing in the dugout after the 8th because I felt the same way. But man, it was hard to watch.
2008-05-07 07:39:11
2.   tommyl
1 Well Mo bounced back from Cleveland in 1997, in a much, much bigger spot. Joba seemed ok with it after the game, upset he let his teammates down but still positive. He's been saying its going to happen sometime, I think he'll bounce back just fine. Hopefully Girardi gets him into the game tonight, right back in the saddle and all.
2008-05-07 07:44:30
3.   Shaun P
2 Actually, I hope Joba doesn't pitch tonight, but comes in for 2 innings after Moose on Thursday. And throws some more curves.

Here's someone at the Hardball Times take on Cano using PitchFX data:

Sounds like Cano has some adjustments to make. I'm still a little iffy on trusting PitchFX data, but the analysis makes sense.

2008-05-07 07:56:02
4.   horace-clarke-era
This is all, to my mind, part of what we've been discussing about the microscope and pitching in the NY media firestorm. Magnified, magnified ... add that it is absolutely the first big-time midge-free failure for a HUGELY hyped kid and it becomes important for his manager and coaches to put some perspective on this with HIM. I'd assume Mo can(and should) do the same.

If he WAS throwing curveballs to 'work the other pitches in' this was seriously bad coaching with a 1 run lead. It is NOT his job right now, and this was a reason I mentioned before, why he'll have to go to AAA to be stretched out, it is NOT just adding innings and arm strength.

The pitch? Why are people defending it so much? Imagine Farns threw that? It was high but not high enough and got much too much of the plate. He had messed about with the breaking stuff and was clearly going back to the heat. Vet hitter knew it. Not really worth overanalyzing. Sometimes you get beat on a good pitch, sometimes you miss your spot. Happens.

I seldom get online for the in-game threads, but reviewing them a bit this morning ... boy did that loss trigger a tad of edge here, or what? Maybe Boston winning, too. We are still down 2 of our 3 best bats, last year the BEST 2, and both can hit righty against lefty starters (and relievers, perhaps more importantly). These are tough times, but we are mediocre not terrible. It is more likely to get (much) better than worse.

2008-05-07 08:40:04
5.   pistolpete
4 >> Maybe Boston winning, too. >>

Yeah, them beating Detroit so handily when the Tigers just got done sweeping us is never a good sign.

2008-05-07 09:09:51
6.   rbj
Didn't get to see the game, but were some fucking morons (and I apologize to real fucking morons) actually booing Joba? Jeebus H. Christopher, but every pitcher is going to give up runs and lose games. I wouldn't boo Mo over game 7 of the 2001 WS.
2008-05-07 10:02:42
7.   Chyll Will
It's good that he had this happen to him, especially right now. Seriously, the great ones experience failure, great failure (see Mo 1997 and 2001), but it does not set them back. If anything, Joba will probably be more focused and show it in his next outing. It had to happen eventually, so why not now, where he can grieve over the loss of innocence and build on it from here without it destroying the team in the process? 1 At least he didn't punch the wall or something self-destructive. I'd rather see him cry than hurt himself. With his intensity, he did everything a real man should. Hmph, no crying in baseball... maybe not after this one, but let him get it out his system now and forever >;)
2008-05-07 11:43:04
8.   weeping for brunnhilde
Agreed wholeheartedly about Cone, Alex. I'm quite fond of our whole team, actually. The analysis is consistently solid and then there's O'Neill, who brings his fragile pysche right into the booth so we can imagine how situations really feel to the participants.

"I hated hitting with the infield in because there's almost more pressure to get a hit."

I love these forays into his head. Plus, the gentle jibes between him and Kay are funny.

As to Joba, yeah, well, it happens. That really was a great piece of hitting by Delucci and great analogy re: Goose and Brett.

Welcome (at long last) to the Big Leagues, Joba!

Go get 'em tonight!

2008-05-07 11:48:48
9.   weeping for brunnhilde
3 Hey Shaun, thanks for that, that was enlightening.

At least it seems a new problem this year. Last year the high cheese was his chief nemesis, right? And he adjusted to that.

So I have confidence he can adjust to this too. I just wish his learning curve was a bit steeper, is all.

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