Not every May game comes pre-packaged with a storyline, but everyone's trying their best to ratchet up some drama for Thursday's Yankees-Orioles tilt. Joba Chamberlain's on the mound, which means he'll be facing Aubrey Huff which means reminders of Huff's fist pump after he beat Chamberlain for a home run in Baltimore. How will Chamberlain respond?
If he's got half a brain he'll respond by approaching Huff as if he were any other hitter in the Orioles lineup. Did Huff show him up a bit with the fist pumping? Sure, but Chamberlain can't very well get upset about a player doing something that he's been prone to do during his own career. What's good for the goose is good for the gander and all that.
There's a time and a place for pitchers throwing at batters. Sticking up for teammates works as a reason, so does stopping a guy who kills you from getting too comfortable in the batting box, but getting your feelings hurt doesn't. If there's any doubt that Chamberlain doesn't understand that, and there's no sign that he doesn't, Joe Girardi has to make sure that he understands it won't be tolerated.
The team's on an eight-game winning streak, everything is going right and they are still getting healthy. That means better days are ahead, better days that Chamberlain will only make less likely by getting himself suspended and throwing the rotation in disarray. More than that, Chamberlain has strung together his best performances of the season and has no reason to let Huff or anyone else show that they can get into his head. That'll just ensure that others do the same thing, with Chamberlain forced to respond each and every time, and make the problem worse.
It would be surprising to see anything but a normal at-bat when Huff comes to the plate, but Chamberlain deserves whatever punishment he gets if he goes the other way.
Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com.