It was about 14 months ago that an already-disappointing Yankees offseason got uglier when Joba Chamberlain was arrested in Nebraska and charged with driving under the influence. Chamberlain was embarrassed by his actions and, in the aftermath, vowed to try to make a negative into a positive by speaking to parents and children about his mistakes.
I think all of us have heard athletes make similar promises before which means all of us know that someone saying he’ll do something is a far cry from actually following through. Chamberlain, though, did spend time talking to young people this year and never ran from difficult questions about his error in judgment.
With the holidays approaching, Chamberlain is back in Nebraska and it sure sounds like he is making a more positive impact on his hometown community this year. As the story notes, Chamberlain spoke to the kids and then signed a never-ending line of autographs – something that actually isn’t an occupational hazard for him since he’s one of the few players who pitches right-handed, but writes (and does most everything else) left-handed. Chamberlain also handed out gifts, including Yankees lunch boxes and winter hats.
At this point, I’d like to think that no one assumes athletes are perfect; like the rest of us, they aren’t. Athlete or not, though, it’s always nice to hear about someone learning from his past. In 2008, Chamberlain made an immature mistake. In 2009, he’s showing his maturity.