Last week, when the Mets and Yankees were both off, SportsNet New York killed some time on their SportsNite highlight show by airing a segment in which Joba Chamberlain played Guitar Hero for a few minutes. As you might assume, it was less than captivating stuff, but something struck us about the boyish Yankees pitcher: He seemed to be having every bit as much fun horsing around playing video games as he would, say, striking out the side in a big-league game. So when we caught up with Joba today at the Engine Co. 16 firehouse in Murray Hill — where he presented firefighter Chris DiBiase with tickets to the last regular-season game at Yankee Stadium and a year of free iced coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts — we were curious if he really was so passionate about his gaming.
“I get pretty happy doing about anything,” he told us. “I’m a kid, and I don’t think I’m gonna grow up for a while.” But when we asked his favorite song to play in the game, he got unnecessarily diplomatic. “You know you can’t really pick one,” he said. “All of them are good. Sometimes you can’t like one too much because it gets to be too hard when you start playing on Hard or Expert, so I usually break the guitar.”
Weirdly, this is almost the same answer he gave us when we asked whether he was looking forward to playing at Fenway this weekend and facing Red Sox first-baseman Kevin Youkilis. Last season he was suspended for throwing at Youkilis, and the most recent time they faced off at Yankee Stadium, Joba threw behind him. “You know what? I’m looking forward to facing all those guys,” he said. “It’s a great lineup, and it’s a great challenge.” So if Joba really is as passionate about his Guitar Hero as he is his pitching, consider this your warning, Youk: Joba’s going to break your … something! —Joe DeLessio