Joba Chamberlain can't get break from Yankee Stadium boo birds


Detroit Tigers relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain #44 reacts after hitting Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter with a pitch during the 10th inning of a game at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, Aug. 5, 2014. Photo Credit: Brad Penner

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In only two innings Tuesday night, the following happened enough times for us to make it a refrain: "Joba Chamberlain was booed loudly when . . ."

Here goes:

Chamberlain was booed loudly when he entered from the bullpen, in relief of David Price with two outs in the ninth inning. He was booed loudly when he threw over to first to check Carlos Beltran. He was booed loudly when, a few seconds later, he wiped sweat from his brow.

"I definitely had to take a couple deep breaths; it was a little nerve-racking," said Chamberlain, who allowed no hits and struck out two in 11/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.93 in the Tigers' 4-3 win at the Stadium. "It's their right to boo."

And when Chamberlain fanned Martin Prado to end the inning, he pumped his fist emphatically as he spun off the mound. The Yankee Stadium crowd didn't take well that gesture, either.

It was a scene reminiscent of Chamberlain's old strikeout celebrations -- shortly after his debut in the summer of 2007. But back then, he was the Yankees' fire-balling firebrand. This time, to some at least, Chamberlain was the bearded enemy. Taunting!

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And how could he have possibly stirred the crowd more? Well, Chamberlain was booed even more when he plunked Derek Jeter in the 10th inning. "I've never, ever felt worse in my life," Chamberlain said, sounding hoarse and remorseful. "I felt awful . . . He knows I'm not trying to hit him."

The situation (two outs and a 1-and-2 count) suggested it was unintentional. No matter.

Chamberlain spent his first seven seasons with the Yankees before signing a one-year deal with the Tigers and is having a resurgent season. Things have gone well. But upon his return Monday, he said, "I gave [the Yankees] everything I got and I love the fans." So would it then not bother him that the love, from so many of those fans, now goes unrequited?

"I gave them everything I had for seven years," he said Tuesday night. "Some were good, some were bad. You don't have to like me, but you should respect that I left it on the field."

Chamberlain, of course, never spurned the Yankees. The team let him walk as a free agent following a miserable 2013 season, a campaign during which many fans booed him as his ERA climbed to 4.93. It became abundantly clear that he was unwanted.

In essence, Chamberlain was booed last season for being here and Tuesday night, for going elsewhere.

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