Trial by fire, indeed.
After entering the seventh inning of the Bomber-BoSox opener on Sunday night, Chan Ho Park, Brian Cashman’s touted offseason relief addition, promptly surrendered three runs, two of which were of the earned variety (the third run, the go-ahead run, scored thanks to Damaso Marte), costing the Yankees – and CC Sabathia, in particular – a very valuable lead. Reactions across the digital Yankee Universe were both swift and harsh. As stated by a commenter at the LoHud Blog, “Chan Ho Park is an NL pitcher, just like LaTroy Hawkins. Yea, he throws hard, who cares? The guy has had his only success in the NL. This guy is awful. Robertson and Joba need to be ahead of him.” While the comment ultimately made little sense – David Robertson and Joba Chamberlain should be ahead of Park in the bullpen pecking order because he’s bad (I guess Park should be the setup man, as that is where all the bad pitchers go…) – the angry, emotional response seemed to mimic much of what I read as I tweeted and and talked to fans.
In retrospect, now that the passionate response has subsided and we are a few days removed from the frustration inducing moment, I think the commenter, and others who reacted similarly, might feel differently about Park today. After all, how can we pass judgement – or more specifically, in this case, condemn – following just one poor outing (the first outing of the regular season, mind you)? Well, we can’t, of course, for such a response is simply unfair to Park and, in addition to that, it is a bit dangerous (in that if we collectively condemn based on one outing, we do not give him a chance to succeed and brand him as a failure prematurely, which can sometimes manifest itself in a player’s performance and a lack of confidence). Just as we failed to do with LaTroy Hawkins – he was deemed a failure far too quickly, hurting his comfort level – Park deserves a chance to be evaluated after multiple outings and multiple games. One bad outing does not a season make, so to think otherwise is more destructive than it is constructive.
Of course, we are Yankee fans and, at our core, we are passionate folks that often live and die with each pitch. That is what defines us, really, and it explains why we react the way we do, to each aspect of every game. However, with that said, we should take into account context when we live and die with each pitch in Game 1 of the regular season. The game is important as it signals the start of a new journey, but we should not dwell on the loss. And, while I wholeheartedly agree that Chan Ho Park is a bullpen enigma, an anomaly that pitched poorly in his first stint as a Yankee in Fenway Park, we should give the guy a break, at least for now. I mean, these things are going to happen.
Let’s chalk it up to rust, an off-night, whatever, and move on.
Photo by the AP
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