You could be forgiven if you thought a flock of turkeys had taken over Joe Girardi’s postgame press conference on Tuesday.
"Joba! Joba Joba Joba!" was the sound emanating from the pack of assembled media types who surrounded the Yankees manager, as one in their agenda. Did Joba win back the eighth-inning role with his two-batter, two-strikeout performance?
"Nah," Girardi said (I paraphrase). It was one game, one brief appearance lasting nine pitches. Yet, the media had hit on its story for the day, and every other question brought the turkeys back out: "Joba Joba Joba Joba!" It’s a good thing it’s not Thanksgiving, or none of them would have been safe. Today’s coverage of the game has predictably followed that line.
Look, guys: Joba did look terrific for those nine pitches, and maybe he’s back, maybe he’s not. It’s really not much of a test, and certainly no more so a test than his Opening Day appearance, the one where he didn’t look nearly so exciting. Girardi correctly said he wanted to see more, wanted to see everyone, and that’s the correct attitude. He has more than one pitcher capable of filling the eighth inning spot, and let us not forget that all innings are important, not just the one containing the fabled Rainbow Bridge to Mariano. What Alfredo Aceves did last night was at least as important as what Joba did, and over the course of the season having a dominating long-man in the pen is going to be just as valuable as having a fire-breathing set-up guy… If, indeed, that is what the Yankees have. Again, we just don’t know.
What we do know is that making this the story now, or trying to push Girardi into making it the story, is ultimately going to be counterproductive for the team. It’s just too soon—you can pluck any nine pitches out of any pitcher’s career and he’d look better than Sandy Koufax.