To offer up a counterpoint to Mike, I don’t think Joba was trying to hit Kevin Youkilis intentionally. I don’t know what happened with those pitches; I don’t know what was going through Joba’s head. But it doesn’t make sense.
That is, however, besides the point. I want to direct your attention instead to a quotation from umpire crew chief Derryl Cousins in this Jack Curry article:
“Those were two pretty nasty pitches the young man threw,” Cousins said. “Up here, you need to be a little better throwing strikes, and we just had to put a lid on it.”
Now, in my opinion, the 9th inning was handled badly by everyone today. Torre’s decision to stick with Joba in the 9th is indefensible when Chamberlain is limited in how often he can pitch. Furthermore, Angel Hernandez, the umpire who ejected Chamberlain, was out of control. Chamberlain threw two bad pitches, and no warning during the course of this entire series was issued. So why not warn the 21-year-old and let the game continue? No one wants to see Angel Hernandez flailing around like a power-hungry fool. They do, however, want to see Joba Chamberlain.
Then, when the game ends, Derryl Cousins has the nerve to refer to the 2004 fight between A-Rod and Jason Varitek as the supposed history between these two teams. He then starts talking condescendingly about “up here, you need to be a little better [at] throwing strikes.” So the umpires decided to “put a lid on it.”
Last I checked, most relief pitches don’t get ejected when they can’t find the strike zone. Did Edwar Ramirez get ejected when he threw 19 of 20 pitches out of the strike zone last month? He certainly wasn’t too good about throwing strikes “up here.” Last I checked, pitching coaches are the ones who determine when to “put a lid on it” when their young pitchers aren’t near the plate. I didn’t realize Angel Hernandez was actually helping the Yankees by removing a wild pitcher from a game. I guess we should thank him then.
So who knows what happened? Who knows why Joba was throwing over Kevin Youkilis’ head. If he did it on purpose, more power to him. If he didn’t, then oops, and everyone’s blowing this out of propotion. But there is no doubt in my mind that Angel Hernandez first and Derryl Cousins second have handled this situation so poorly. Their actions and words cast more of a negative shadow on the game and the sport than two of Joba’s errant pitches did today.