Who can hate Joba Chamberlain when he takes a family to Disney World and talks about his first roller coaster ride? Who can hate the Yankees as long as he's there? He's become a bona fide star, a nice guy, a super hero!
He swears he'll stay the same fist-punching screaming guy that he was in his rookie season. In his first season, Chamberlain compiled a 0.38 ERA in 19 appearances. He gave up 12 hits will walking six and struck out 34. Stats like that will be next to impossible for Chamberlain to follow.
John Harper at the New York Daily News talks about how the Yankees need to clarify Joba's role. Last season, Chamberlain made his name last season as a closer, while this season he may move to being a starter.
On the other hand, Joe Girardi pointed out that the challenge for Chamberlain on and off the field will be more difficult because of his success.
"He's going to be pulled in a lot of different directions (off the field)," said Girardi. "And from a baseball standpoint, people have seen him and they have an idea of what he's going to do. It's one thing to have a scouting report on a guy, but it's another to face him and know what he throws, how his ball moves, that type of thing."
Harper's point is that Chamberlain already faces incredible expectations. By being unclear on his role, Chamberlain's second season will be that much harder.
Contrast Joba's success with Alex Gordon's disappointing rookie season. Gordon had a mediocre season at the plate and to add injury to insult, he received a broken nasal cavity when a ground ball hit him in the face. If that wasn't bad enough, the injury occurred right before Gordon was to have wedding pictures taken - he had to wait weeks before the black eyes went away. Gordon has a long way to go before living up to the expectations of being "the next George Brett".
Who's shoes would you rather be in? Joba Chamberlain has set expectations so high and become so loved so quickly it'll be a surprise if he can match his first season. Or Alex Gordon's - who's first season of disappointment leaves him in a position where he has to prove that he's worthy of the money, the high draft pick, and worst of all 'the next George Brett'.