Baseball fans who remember the Game 5 of the 2007 ALDS know that Joba Chamberlain had some issues with bugs swarming him while he was on the mound in Cleveland. Chamberlain blew the lead and the Yankees lost the game.
But do you know what really bugged the former Yankees reliever? A song that's a fan favorite in Boston... but decidedly not so for Chamberlain.
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On a new episode of the Balk Talk podcast from NBC Sports Bay Area, the 10-year MLB vet detailed his absolute disdain for Neil Diamond's "Sweet Caroline," a song that became an unofficial Fenway Park anthem in 2002. While Red Sox Nation delights in belting out the "So good! So good! So good!" refrain in the middle of the eighth inning, let's just say Chamberlain feels otherwise.
"Ugh, the worst. And the worst is my son and his buddies terrorize me. Legitimately, they'll play it on their phones," Chamberlain told NBC Sports Bay Area's Jessica Kleinschmidt. "We were having a end-of-the-year watch party or something at one of my bars or restaurants and they played it on the jukebox and I lost my mind. Like I lost my mind. I was like, 'Karter, you know that bugs me. Like, I hate that song.' Is it catchy? Yes. I won't deny that. But at the same time, I had to hear it all the time, every time I came into the game against Boston. I don't want to hear it."
And for a reliever who routinely pitched in the late innings as a set-up man for Mariano Rivera, that meant Chamberlain heard the song quite a lot, sometimes as he was coming in from the bullpen. Chamberlain recalled a particularly infuriating experience where he didn't think Caroline was that sweet — Opening Day at Fenway Park in 2010.
I'm coming into the game when it's about to hit the fan. So I'm ready to get locked in and I remember... Steven Tyler sang (God Bless America during the 7th inning stretch) and then Neil Diamond sang (Sweet Caroline) live and I'm like, 'Dude, are you done yet? I'm ready to pitch!' ... Of course, you're going to hear this damn song and you're like 'All right...' And you try to block it out, but you can't because all the fans go crazy. I won't take anything away from the song, but I can't stand it.
Chamberlain had entered the game with the Yankees trailing 8-7 in the seventh, but after getting the final out of the inning, he had to wait through Diamond's rendition of the song before going back to the mound for the eighth, where he promptly gave up another run for the final margin in a 9-7 Red Sox victory.
So whether he woke up on a "September Morn" or any other time of year, Chamberlain didn't enjoy being a "Solitary Man" on the Fenway Park mound when he had to listen to a song that Red Sox fans think of as "Beautiful Noise."
"I don't like Neil Diamond," Chamberlain said. "I don't know him, but I don't like him. And it has nothing to do with anything other than I just hate that song."