There were nearly 500 questions e-mailed in. I told Joba I would narrow it down to 10, but I managed to squeeze in 15 questions. If your question was not selected, please do not be offended. It was hard picking out the best ones. I tried to do a mix of baseball and off-field topics.
I avoided questions about his role on the pitching staff, midges, A-Rod’s use of steroids and Joe Torre’s book. Those topics have been beaten into the ground, right?
There was one question I forgot to ask. That was “Who would win a cage match between you, CC Sabathia and a bear?” I will try and ask him that today and get back to you on that.
We recorded the interview in the hallway outside the clubhouse on Thursday afternoon. It was pretty quiet until — of course — Nick Swisher walked by yelling about something.
Here’s the audio of the interview:
The transcript follows:
John asks: I was wondering if you had any special superstitions or specific things you do before a game or before coming into a game?
Joba Chamberlain: “I try and do the same thing over and over. Like try and eat the same thing before and get dressed the same way.”
Follow-up question: Is there something you specifically eat?
Joba: “I usually have a steak and potato before the game. And for a night game I’ll usually have a big bowl of pasta like about 1 o’clock before I get going or maybe eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich before I start. But usually I don’t eat anything before a night game.”
Ken asks: Any advice for a nervous seventh grader getting ready for tryouts?
Joba: “Just to have fun. Everybody puts so much pressure on trying out because you want to be on the team. But as long as you have fun and understand that it’s a game and you can have fun, that’s the biggest thing.”
Many people asked: Now that you’ll be a starter full-time, are you going to try to throw your change-up more than you did when you were a reliever?
Joba: “If the situation calls for it. It’s probably my fourth-best pitch. I’m still continuing to get better with it. But I think if it’s not called for, then there is no need to. Just look at A.J., he only throws two pitches and he doesn’t necessarily need to throw his change-up.”
Adam asks: Why do you wear the brim of your Yankees cap flat?
Joba: “I always have. I always have. I don’t know, it’s just one of those things where I get it out of the box and put it on.”
Patrick asks: There must be days when you’re warming up in the bullpen that you find a certain pitch just isn’t working. Do you toy with that pitch anyway during the game until it comes back or do you shelve it for the rest of the day?
Joba: “You try to go to what’s working. In the bullpen you usually have a feel for what’s working and what’s not. Sometimes you do have to put it in the shelf because you don’t feel right with it or you try and throw it once in a game and then you know you’re definitely going to scratch it.”
Tom writes: Who is your best friend on the team?
Joba: “Ooh … I don’t know. I mean they’re all kind of. CC probably, I mean he’s my locker partner and A.J. I think just because he and CC are kind of the same individual. And A.J. and me were the same pitcher growing up. I think it’s probably surprisingly those two guys. Just because with the older guys you have that relationship. You ask me in the middle of the season and it’s probably going to be different. Those guys are coming in and you try to make them feel comfortable.”
Kirsten writes:: Your career has moved at a much faster pace, more so than that of most younger players. If you could go back and give advice to your 2007 self, what would you say?
Joba: “Slow things down. They’re so … especially in New York, things are going so fast. I did a terrible job my first year of slowing things down. Not so much on the field but probably off the field. You’ve just got to be happy for the situation but slow a lot of things down.”
Mike writes: You’re from the Cornhusker state, the home to some of the most rabid and knowlegable college football fans in America. Can you compare Yankee fans to Nebraska football fans?
Joba: “Wow. They’re probably exactly the same. I mean, it’s funny. The Bronx area kind of shuts down on game day and the state of Nebraska shuts down on a football Saturday. It becomes the third-largest city in Nebraska on a football Saturday. So the passion for football is very, very similar.”
Marc writes: If you were starting a band on Rock Band or Guitar Hero World Tour what teammates would you choose, who would play what instruments and who would sing?
Joba: “Who would sing? I would probably go with Nick Swisher singing. Probably me on the bass. Hughes on the guitar and on the drums … it would probably be Johnny Damon. That would be awesome to see.”
Jill writes: Who is your favorite musician?
Joba: “Favorite musician? Group or singer? Oh, man. Shoot. Group would have to be Rascal Flatts and singer would have to be Jay-Z.”
John writes: What’s the best piece of advice your dad ever gave you?
Joba: “Have fun. His motto always is you don’t have to be the best, you have to try your best. There are always going to be people who are more naturally gifted. But if you give everything you’ve got, that’s all you can ask for.”
A lot of people asked: What is the most important thing you’ve learned from CC and A.J. this spring?
Joba: “Wow. Just try to relax. Those guys come in with a lot of pressure Just try to relax and have fun and just go about your business in a daily fashion.”
Lance: Who do consider to be the toughest out in the league?
Joba: “Toughest out in the league? Probably Manny or Pujols. I’ve never faced Pujols; I’ve never faced Manny. But I’ve seen Manny a lot more than I’ve seen Pujols. Right now I’d have to say those two.”
Follow-up question: Right now they’re not in the league any more.
Joba: “Yeah, they’re not in my league. In my league? Wow. I always have trouble with Mike Lowell.”
(He was right on the mark, by the way. Lowell is 3 for 7 against Joba with a homer and only one strike out.)
Erik writes: As a young guy in New York, do you worry about the media spotlight? Does it keep you from having any fun?
Joba: “No. You definitely have to pick your spots, obviously. There’s a time to go have fun and a time to shut it down. That’s part of the thing about growing up in New York. Literally, I’m growing up. I was 20, 21 coming up here. You’ve just got to pick your times to have fun. You have to enjoy yourself, you have to. But there’s certain times when you don’t and you’ve got to be careful.”
Ruthie writes: Are there any TV shows you watch religiously?
Joba: “TV shows I watch religiously? Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Me: “That’s not on any more.”
Joba: “Yes it is. Its re-runs. But I don’t care, I’ve seen them all. And Man V. Food on the Travel Channel. That’s dude’s from New York. All the time. I love it.”
Thanks again to everybody who sent in questions. It was a lot of fun doing the interview. After I recorded the interview, Joba told me he appreciated people having so much interest and he thanked everybody for their good wishes.
Thanks also to Joba for taking the time to help out the blog.
The plan is to conduct several more of these reader Q&As over the course of the season. Keep an eye out for the next call for questions.