I should not know who Joba Chamberlain is. Neither should you.
Alas, you need only be a casual baseball fan to know that Chamberlain is a middle reliever for the New York Yankees. Bonus points if you know these other things about him…
– His father in Nebraska almost died recently because of pneumonia.
– He’s the pasty white guy whose head was surrounded with flies on the mound during an ALDS game in Cleveland last fall.
– His career ERA is astronomically small, prompting a debate this week between his owner and general manager (conducted entirely through two New York newspapers) as to whether he should be in the bullpen or the starting rotation.
It’s this last item that prompted me to stop and think about the phenomenon that is Joba Chamberlain, because it suddenly hit me that I can’t name a single middle reliever on more than half of all major-league rosters. Come to think of it, I can’t even name the Texas Rangers’ closer. (Help…anyone?)
Certainly you have heard the name “Joba” because of the team he pitches for, but I think there’s a little more to it than that. If his name were, say, Bill Chamberlain, or Steve Chamberlain, would we know so much about this man? If he were a pasty white guy with a 90 mph-plus fastball named Wilt Chamberlain, I suppose that would do it for him, but Joba is just one of those magnetic names that belongs to rock stars or soda flavors or Star Wars aliens, not middle relievers. In fact, I think Joba could be the team’s weakest link, a .200-hitting middle infielder that spends half the season between Triple A and the Bronx, and he’d still be famous for being named Joba. More children will be born with the name “Joba” this decade than any decade in human history, and we owe it all to this flame-throwing man in pinstripes.
Thus concludes my only Joba Chamberlain blog, ever.