Monday, February 18, 2013

Chamberlain-Youkilis feud overblown

I’m so glad Joba Chamberlain and Kevin Youkilis are now best buds. Now the New York Yankees can steamroll their way to the World Series championship that’s rightfully theirs.

Seriously, I don’t doubt that there was genuine bad blood between Joba and Youkilis. The Yankees-Red Sox rivalry has gotten nasty at times, despite the fact that some of the players actually enjoy each other’s company (see Derek Jeter and Dustin Pedroia after being teammates during the last World Baseball Classic). Now, I don’t expect Joba and Youkilis to really become friends and they don’t need to be—seriously, who likes all of their coworkers? But I never thought that there was going to be tension between Joba and the Yankees new third baseman to the point where it was going to wreak havoc with the team’s chemistry.

But perhaps Youkilis could benefit from the Yankees’ superior media operation. If he had only returned Joba’s call in the offseason when the Yankees pitcher called to make peace, the story wouldn’t have blown up the way it did. And Yankee fans shouldn’t overreact to Youkilis’ stated love for Boston and the Red Sox. He played there for eight years and we can’t expect him to start bleeding pinstripes just because he signed with the Yankees. All we should expect is that he will bring the same fire and clutch hitting to the Yankees that he did before his time in Boston came to an ugly end.

But teammates do not have to love each other for a team to win. I distinctly remember that Derek Jeter was no Roger Clemens fan when the Rocket was throwing 95mph fastballs at his head. But spring training started in 1999 and Jeter and Chuck Knoblauch pranked their new colleague by showing up in the batter’s box with full catcher’s gear, getting a big laugh out of the notoriously intense Clemens. The prank lightened the mood in spring training and the Yankees never looked back.

I’m not saying that the Yankees are going to win another title if Joba comes up with a similarly hilarious prank to pull on his new teammate. The Yankees have plenty of problems that are a lot worse than any feud between Joba and Youkilis and that’s where the focus should be.

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