Let’s have some fun. It’s a slow Friday afternoon, and with rain forecast throughout the New York area, there’s no guarantee of baseball tonight. Meanwhile, the New York sports media is all abuzz about Joba for a change.
On Tuesday night, when the superstitious Joba struck out Frank Thomas to escape the 8th inning, the Yankee youngster was very animated in his fist pump. Over the last few days, our city’s lovely sports media has decided to make a mountain of this mole hill. Is Joba’s fist pump over the top or appropriate, the guys on YES discussed last night.
Paul O’Neill, at one point, compared Joba’s fist pump to Chad Johnson’s endzone celebrations. They aren’t the same thing, Paul decided. Joba’s fist pump is a sign of the adrenaline flowing through him; it’s not meant as some taunting celebration. And Frank Thomas himself said that Joba’s fist pump doesn’t bother him. Why would it? After all, Joba’s not the only pitcher with a fist pump.
Meanwhile, O’Neill made another valid point last night. The Yankees aren’t used to such animated celebrations at the end of games. For 12 seasons, we’ve watched Mariano Rivera calmly close out games with nary a fist pump in sight. So now that we have our own version of a Francisco Rodriguez or — dare I say it — a Jonathan Papelbon-style celebration after a big inning, everyone jumps on it.
As Peter Abraham notes, the goons on Mike & the Mad Dog were talking about it today, and of course, they were critical of it. We know they’re not to be listened to, but people tune in anyway. They claim — and Michael Kay and O’Neill made a similar argument — that hitters will go up there trying to get to Joba. But I don’t see someone trying too hard and pressing against Chamberlain as necessarily a bad thing.
So here’s my question: Is the Joba fist pump a bad thing? Does Joba need to tone down his celebration for fear of showing up his opponents or is it all part of the game?