Joba Chamberlain's Injury Was Unfortunate, Not Unprofessional

Chamberlain shouldn't be punished for bad luck

By Josh Alper
|  Wednesday, Mar 28, 2012  |  Updated 10:24 AM EDT
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Chamberlain deserves more sympathy than scorn.

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Joba Chamberlain made his first public statements since his gruesome ankle injury on Tuesday and he vowed to be back on the mound for the Yankees this season.

That seems like a long shot. Chamberlain is still coming off of Tommy John surgery and the ankle problem is going to slow down his ability to test the elbow.

With the Yankees rarely having cause to give a guy a chance to work out his kinks on the mound during regular season games, Chamberlain might be looking at 2013 before he can be back at it and that could mean he's doing his pitching for someone other than the Yankees. 

There are plenty of reasons why Chamberlain shouldn't be welcomed back to the Yankees. You can start with his dual injuries, continue on to his inconsistent performances of the last few seasons and continue right through the already deep bullpen.

If it was up to Kevin Kernan of the Post and John Harper of the News, Chamberlain would have been released by the Yankees the second his ankle snapped on that trampoline. To the two tabloid columnists, Chamberlain is an unprofessional scoundrel who doesn't deserve to be on the Yankees any longer.

The idea that he shouldn't be back with the team because his choice to play with his son on a trampoline lacks professionalism is absurd. The way you know that's true is that no one would be calling Chamberlain unprofessional if he was on a trampoline and escaped unscathed.

That wouldn't be the case if Chamberlain was riding a motorcycle without a helmet, running through a tiger preserve with raw chicken taped to his body or volunteering for medical experiments at the local community college. All of those things would qualify as unprofessional regardless of the outcome because of the levels of risk involved.

You need only ask someone who works in an emergency room to find out that trampolines also involve risk as well, but the difference comes when you hear about someone jumping on a trampoline and living to tell the tale. Your reaction is not that they are a daredevil with a death wish, but that they did something rather unremarkable.

Baseball players are human beings and human beings suffer all kinds of terrible harm doing unremarkable things every day. They cut themselves while chopping vegetables, they slip on an icy patch of sidewalk or they get hit by a bike while stepping off the curb to cross the street.

Such is life and the fact that someone is paid handsomely to throw a ball doesn't change the fact that they make the same kinds of decisions that all of us make. Killing a guy for making a decision to play with his son seems unusually cruel.

It's funny that there's so much outrage from Harper and Kernan here when neither man called for the Yankees to wipe their hands of Chamberlain after he was arrested for drunk driving in 2008. That was a lot less professional and a lot more dangerous than anything Chamberlain did on that trampoline last week, yet there wasn't any outcry about immediately casting him out.

You're living under a pretty strange ethical system when drunk driving is fine and dandy, but jumping on a trampoline is cause for termination. If Chamberlain is done with the Yankees, let's hope it's because of the justifiable reasons instead of people searching for one that doesn't exist.

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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