So if this is the last hurrah of Joba the Hutt, the fist pump, the failed starter, the middle reliever / heir apparent or maybe not to Mariano Rivera, and if this is the point that his Tommy John Surgery keeps him from being the man that he was destined to be... what will we remember?
Will we remember that his real name is Justin? More importantly, will we really care? After all, even as a Yankee hater, we have to say that Joba is far cooler anyway.
We will probably remember the rules that so befuddled Mr. Torre. There was a day off for every inning that the 21 year old (at the time) Joba pitched. He had that time off before and that time off after he came into the game. Can't have too much work on a young arm, which makes sense, but all the same, this is baseball. Are we really coddling young players so much that it takes forever to adjust them to the majors when the time comes? OK, don't answer that question.
For a team that doesn't have that many heatlhy or effective or youthful pitching options, to lose a guy like Chamberlain is scary for what the Yankees will have to do (spend LOTS and LOTS on iffy free agents like CC Sabathia and Josh Beckett, trust in Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon, + Freddy Garcia, pray for Phil Hughes' arm to rise from the dead and a nearly 14.00 ERA). For a Yankee hater like myself, it means that we can focus on Boston's success and Tampa Bay's emergence. Both of those are happy thoughts, by the way.
The Midges, which many will remember from that fateful game on October 5, 2007... now that's something altogether different. We will remember them bringing Cleveland's hopes and prayers to life again as they brought in a run that effectively devastated the Yankee playoff chances that year and almost allowed the Indians to get to the World Series (losing 3 straight to Boston to keep that from happening). We will see them swarming Joba on the mound and making the wild pitch possible.
Will we remember the 0.38 ERA that first year? The 19 games with 1 earned run and 2 runs? The utter finality of his appearance in the game until (thank you!) Boston's Mike Lowell put a stake through that vampire's heart with a home run.
There were moments of greatness and promise, and perhaps he can still be great, but will he be the homegrown excellence of Rivera, Jeter, Posada, Pettite, and Williams? Or will he be just another story, another shirt to show the kids to let them know that you were there through the good times (as opposed to a Rickey Henderson Yankees jersey for the ugly years)?
We wish him well at recovery because let's be honest... it's going to be fun to tee off on him in 2013.