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Playoffs Clinched, But Concern Remains

This should be a day for Yankee fans to celebrate and bask in their glorious return to the postseason. New York is back in the playoffs after an arduous year-long hiatus, and there's every reason to believe that they can keep performing like the best team in baseball ... and potentially make yet another run at a World Series title.

In fact, that is the storyline for a number of the Gotham sports scribes today, but at least one is kicking dirt on the team's accomplishments, claiming the recent output from a particular pitcher undermines all the good that's being done. That writer is the Bergen Record's Bob Klapisch, and the pitcher in question is -- surprise, surprise -- Joba Chamberlain.

Two years after the advent of the Joba Rules, a set of strict pitch counts designed to limit the strain on Chamberlain's arm, the young pitcher is struggling as his 2009 season wears on. As the Yankees have attempted to stretch out the breaks between Chamberlain's starts in an attempt to keep him fresh for the postseason, he's struggled to maintain any of his command or composure.

Instead of a lock-down, No. 2 starter, Chamberlain has been battered into a 4.72 ERA despite a relatively strong start to the season. His velocity is down as much as 6-7 miles-per-hour in some starts, and with each start he looks more like a burned out pitcher.

The Yankees have been frantically searching for any kind of an internal fix for Chamberlain's problems, but have come up empty so far. They may make headway eventually, but so far, every attempt just seems to psycho-somatically cause more damage to Chamberlain's psyche.

That's why Klapisch is pointing to something else as the source of Chamberlain's problems: His lifestyle.

It's an argument that makes sense and would explain a lot. There's little talk about Chamberlain's physique, yet he looks demonstrably bigger (and not in a good way) than he was when he first arrived in 2007. He's already received one DUI, and few would assume he keeps himself out of the bars altogether during the season.

Add to that Chamberlain's body-crippling energy drink ritual -- if you track him for an entire game you can watch him drink as many as 4-5 Red Bulls, which is more than a healthy yearly allotment of a number of the drink's additives -- and there's little question that his body may be hurting from the way he treats it as much as the innings he's logged.

Sure, maybe this is all off base, but the more of Chamberlain you watch, the more Klapisch's argument makes a lot of sense. Now the real question is whether the Yankees are asking the same questions we are, or whether they're blinded by their adoration of Chamberlain's past body of work.

We know one thing for certain: They can't be attracted to his current body, or his 2009 body of work.

By Cameron Smith  |  September 23, 2009; 12:32 PM ET
Categories:  Yankees  | Tags: Joba Chamberlain, Yankees, injuries, playoffs  
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david wells he is not

Posted by: adampschroeder | September 23, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

Some of the greatest Yankees of all time put up HOF numbers with a diet of booze, smokes, and hookers. Get him on the Micky Mantle diet ASAP and get him off the energy drinks.

Posted by: PhilliesPhan | September 23, 2009 5:13 PM | Report abuse

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