In front of a crowd of 48,271, on a beautiful day in New York, the Yankees gave their fans exactly what they DIDN'T want. Was it one to remember? Maybe, but in a good way? No chance. After a solid performance from their $161 million investment, the Yankees turned the ball over to their bullpen. At the time, the score was 1-1. It wouldn't be long before that changed though.
As the wall door in left-center field opened, a man in pinstripes emerged. That man, was not Joba Chamberlain. Should it have been? Should our government do something about this economy? Of course. But Hal Steinbrenner thinks Chamberlain should be a starter. He also doesn't seem to think much of the economy either. See $423 billion in the dictionary.
After Phil Coke worked the Yankees out of the sixth inning, Jose Veras came in to start the seventh. He walked the lead-off batter (one of the worst things a pitcher can do), then gave up back-to-back doubles, allowing two runs. Demaso Marte came in to save the day -- for Cleveland. In case they had any doubts about the outcome of the game, Marte surrendered seven runs in a matter of minutes to Cleveland (single, walk, grand slam, home run) . Talk about a buzz kill. If there's ever a way a team wants to open their new stadium, this wasn't it.
As I recall, the Yankees were a playoff team with Chamberlain in the bullpen. Since Steinbrenner forced his move to the starting rotation, the Yankees failed to make the playoffs and have bounced back to a 5-5 record this year. Not the results you want to see as a fan. Chamberlain is 4-3 as a starter in 13 games. As a setup man two years ago, he was 2-0 in 24 innings pitched, with 34 strikeouts and an ERA of 0.38. The man gave up 1 earned run! He was a force to be reckoned with. The Yankees probably won 17 of those 19 games he pitched, I would imagine. Maybe more. When the game got to the 7th or 8th inning, it was over. Fans had peace of mind and could relax and enjoy the end of the game, anticipating a Yankee victory.
With the offseason acquisitions of Burnett and Sabathia, and with Chamberlain starting now, fans are relaxed for the first 6 to 7 innings, and hit panic mode in the last 2 or 3. The Yankees lost one series, thanks to the "attack of the mosquitos" in Cleveland, and Steinbrenner immediately yanked Chamberlain out of the bullpen. They had the winning formula, and Steinbrenner's impatience put it to waste. Remember Rivera and Wetteland? Here's a little reminder from Joe Torre's book:
"[The Yankees] were 70-3 when they led after six innings."
70-3 when they led after six innings! No wonder they won the World Series. They got to play offense for nine innings, while the other team played offense by little league rules (six). The Yankees of two years ago, and even part of last year, had that winning combination. What are the odds another Rivera comes along? Next to nothing! And the Yankees found him. It was Rivera and Wetteland all over again. Chamberlain was the perfect heir to the thrown. Marte and company, are not.
70-3 when leading after the sixth wins champions. The Yankees could have five hall-of-famers in their starting rotation (they might actually), but it's not about how you start, it's about how you finish. I'd take a decent fifth starter if it means that Chamberlain is there to close the door with Rivera.
If Steinbrenner doesn't soon realize he's got the perfect formula for success right under his nose, he may go broke trying to find another way.
At least he's not trying to solve the economy.
Image taken from espn.com