Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Today In Gross Overreactions

After last night's game, the Boston media questioned David Ortiz about his 0 for 7 start and asked if he was concerned that this might be indicative of another slow beginning for the slugger. Ortiz, unamused, justifiably responded unpleasantly:
"Shit happens. Then you guys talk shit. Two fucking games already. Motherfuckers are going crazy. What's up with that, man? Shit. There's fucking 160 games left. Y'all fuckers go ahead and hit for me."
Ortiz then threw a jar of his spicy mango salsa at the assembled writers and stormed off to continue his months-long quest to get the to bottom of his positive steroid test.

While I may have made up that last sentence, Ortiz brings up a very valid point. We're just two games into a six month-long season. There have been any number of things that have been overreacted to over the past three days, but in my opinion none has been more egregious than the hosannas thrown at Joba Chamberlain because he recorded two strikeouts in the eighth inning last night.

I'm tired of reading about Joba Chamberlain. For nearly three years now, every pitch he's thrown, every fist he's pumped, every start he's made, every trot from the bullpen, every fastball that's fallen short of our expected velocity has been overanalyzed to death.

I refrained from commenting when it was announced he would pitch out of the bullpen this year. It's not the role in which I want to see Chamberlain, but someone had to lose the competition, and I'd probably be just as unhappy if Phil Hughes were banished to the bullpen for another year. I still hope the Chamberlain will be a starter in the long haul, so perhaps my crankiness today is driven by those feelings.

But I'm absolutely stupefied by the sheer volume of things I've heard and read proclaiming that last night's performance signifies that 2007 Joba is back.

I've seen the picture of him roaring and fist pumping in about seven different places. I heard Jorge Posada use his post-game interview with Kim Jones as an excuse to get up on his soapbox and say he thought Joba belonged in the pen all along. I heard Kay, Singleton, and Leiter trot out the same old tired debate lines that have been beaten to death over the past two and half years. I heard the normally level-headed Jack Curry say on the post-game show that Chamberlain has to earn the eighth inning job and his performance last night did just that. I've read countless pieces this morning, both from the beat writers and the blogosphere, that have waxed poetic about Joba recapturing his former fire.

To which I quote David Ortiz: "There's fucking 160 games left!" Joba was great last night, there's no questioning that. But have we forgotten that he was horseshit on Sunday night? Did we forget that he needed 33 pitches to get four outs, that his fastball was sitting at about 92-93 MPH, and that he continued to nibble and not challenge hitters? Do we forget that Sunday's appearance reminded us of all the troublesome aspects of Joba's 2009 season that we've analyzed and debated and beaten into the ground over and over again? Or does that get thrown out the window because he had a great (2/3 of an) eighth inning last night?

I'm not trying to say that Joba can't or won't be a weapon out of the bullpen this year. I'm not saying that the bullpen isn't where his ultimate fate lies. I'm not saying that we shouldn't be happy with his performance last night. But before we go lionizing him like it's August of '07 all over again, before we declare him The Eighth Inning Guy, before we go plastering his mouth agape, fist pumping picture on another post, could we please, please just step back for a minute and realize that last night was just one game and that it doesn't guarantee that the rest of Joba's 2010 campaign will play out like the final two months of the 2007 season?

6 comments:

  1. Jason from The Heartland4/7/10, 12:53 PM

    Huge, mutual overreaction by Ortiz and the slavish baseball media, Matt, and the comparison to the micro-focus on Joba is a good point. Talk about ginning up controversies where none exist, or should. I shudder to think how Big Pop-up might (over-)react if and when he goes hitless in his next game. Someone might need a steak on the eye. Maybe the media could pass anonymous post-it notes to him after his next game, for their mutual sake.

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  2. As far as Ortiz goes - and not that I have a horse in that race - I don't blame him at all. The Boston media is notoriously negative and it's absolutely farcical for them to ask if going 0 for 7 over the first two games is indicative of another slow start.

    Just for context's sake, Albert Pujols had 5 different streaks of 0 for 7 or greater last year, including an 0 for 14. Joe Mauer had four such streaks. It happens. It's baseball. And if occurred during the first two games of August rather than the first two games of April, no one would have asked him about it.

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  3. Thank you for posting this. I could just feel the whole thing being stupidly ratcheted up when I saw that almost ever back page had our favorite drunken injun on it.

    I seriously don't know what's worse right now; the need for the NY media to fan this fucking fire every freaking day, or the Philadelphia media (where I'm forced to live) playing the whole Eagles vs Phillies press release conspiracy game.

    I need to pay more attention to the Boston media as I'm sure it's just as bad up there with who throws the faggier on-field tantrums, Lester, Lackey, or the Youk.

    Where can I get some of that mango salsa?

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  4. This 24-7 news cycle has infected sports as well. All these sports shows and bloggers (present company excepted) need something to write about, so they come up with this stuff. Why does the media need to be in the locker room after every game? Listen to a broadcast of a game from the 50's or 60's and you don't hear all of this crap between pitches. The game went a lot faster and there wasn't a need for so much "analysis."

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  5. I think the whole "overreaction" things is a bit overblown in baseball today. People love to jump all over people who make any sort of reponse to games in April. It seems as if the only way to not overreact is to call anyone even talking about baseball in April an overreactor. Just because you analyze and critique games in April, does not mean you are overreacting, but too often that is the case. I know the reaction to this will not be met with agreement, but that is how I feel.

    That being said...my opinion on the whole David Ortiz thing is that I have believed since the first game that batting him 5th is a big mistake for the Red Sox. I think he will hurt their lineup in that spot and witnessed him doing so during the first three games. So, if I were a Red Sox fan I would be very upset, but not because I would be overreacting, but because I think they are making a terrible move.

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  6. I think there's a distinction to be made. Everyone is free to discuss baseball in April. It's great to have baseball to discuss after the long off season.

    But there is a big difference between discussing one game as just one game and drawing conclusions on how the rest of the season will proceed based on two or three games. Proclaiming that Joba is back or that Ortiz is off to a 2009-like start is way premature at this point.

    I agree that the Sox are making a mistake by hitting him fifth, especially since it leaves J.D. Drew languishing in the seven spot. But again, there's a difference between thinking he's in the wrong spot in the batting order and assuming he'll have another abysmal start because he went 0 for 7.

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