You could say it was something of a dream, then, for Chamberlain to zip a fastball by Thomas in front of a packed Yankee Stadium audience on Tuesday evening, striking out the slugger to end the eighth inning with the tying run on second base.
His reaction was about the same as you'd expect from the excitable 22-year-old, which is why Chamberlain raised an eyebrow when informed, two days later, that his fist pump and scream had made for juicy talk-radio fodder and seemed to irk a few observers.
"I guess I've been giving people things to talk about for a while now," Chamberlain said. "If I'm going to go out there and give you everything I've got, and don't show you everything I am as a person, you're not getting everything I am. And that's unfair to my teammates."
If there were any ill feelings about the strikeout, they certainly weren't evident the next day. Thomas posed for a photo during batting practice with Chamberlain's polio-stricken father, Harlan, who grinned from his motorized scooter and had only good things to say about Thomas.
Manager Joe Girardi said that Chamberlain's actions could create issues with other clubs down the road, but the right-hander does not seem to have changed his personality one bit since his big league debut last August, posting a 0.38 ERA down the stretch.
Girardi does not plan to address the topic with Chamberlain.
"I'm not going to take that away from him, because I don't think he's showing people up," he said. "There are other pitchers who do it. Jeff Nelson, we called it 'the chainsaw.' Derek Jeter has that classic [fist pump]. I don't think it's showing people up -- I think it's emotion.
"You want emotion in this game. Sometimes people take the emotion the wrong way, that we're supposed to be just kind of playing. I think emotion is good in this game as long as you're not showing anyone up."
Upon arriving in the big leagues, Chamberlain said repeatedly that he plans to wear his heart on his sleeve. He reiterated that stance on Thursday.
"There's no disrespect. It's not anything," he said. "If people take it as offensive, that's on them. I'm not showing anybody up, and I'm not disrespecting the game. If people want to talk about it, let them talk about it.
"I'm Joba Chamberlain, and I pitch for the New York Yankees. I'm going to be me. There's no getting around it."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less