Return of midges in Cleveland? Revisiting the 2007 Yankees vs. Indians bug game starring Joba Chamberlain

By | October 15, 2022

The Guardians and Yankees have a lengthy playoff history. The 2022 postseason marks the fourth time they’ve seen each other since 2007, when Cleveland won in four games in the ALDS.

It is also the 15-year anniversary of the midges. Fans of both teams recall when insects blighted out Progressive Field (then called Jacobs Field) with the Yankees in town on Oct. 5, 2007. Yankees reliever Joba Chamberlain got the worst of it, something he still hears about to this day.

Chamberlain still likes to joke about the midges when they come up again, having cracked about them as recently as Friday, when Lindsay Adler kindly pointed out the midges weren’t just landing on him — They were mating on him.

Chamberlain also acknowledged that he can’t believe it’s been 15 years since it happened.

You can see Chamberlain recalling his ordeal.

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“This is a lot worse than I thought it was,” Chamberlain said when he saw the footage. “You can’t prepare for it.”

In an evergreen truth: Time is a flat circle. As the Yankees and Guardians prepare to take the ALDS to Cleveland for Game 3 Saturday, it appears the insects may be priming for an encore performance. In last week’s game between the Chargers and Browns, both sides complained of the bugs’ presence at FirstEnergy Field.

What are midges?

A midge is a small fly, prevalent in nearly every environment. The only exceptions are extreme climates such as deserts and places with freezing temperatures.

There are various families of midges, but the ones that inhabit Cleveland are (thankfully) of the non-biting variety.

The ones in Cleveland are notorious for settling on anything solid, including people. During the Browns and Chargers game, they were all over the glass in the press box and various cameras.

Who was the Yankees pitcher attacked by bugs?

Joba Chamberlain’s legacy is forever tied to the midge.

In Game 2 of the ALDS on Oct. 5, 2007, Chamberlain came in in the seventh inning against Cleveland in a 1-0 game (Yankees lead), relieving Andy Pettitte.

Chamberlain pitched 1 2-3 innings in that game, giving up one run on a wild pitch that seemed to be a direct result of the midges. He was visibly shaken up on the mound, and play stopped at one point when bug spray was applied, which he said made it worse.

Grady Sizemore was the one who scored from third on the wild pitch with Victor Martinez at the plate. Cleveland would go on to win in the 11th 2-1 on a game-winning hit from Travis Hafner off of Luis Vizcaino.

Why are midges an issue in Cleveland?

Cleveland’s proximity to Lake Erie is the most succinct explanation for these pests.

Midges start out as larvae in Lake Erie, and when the lake hits 60 degrees, they begin their migration to the mainland.

The migration patterns depends on such factors as wind and where they hatch.

The life span of midges is generally relatively short, but they happen to intersect with the most busy sport season at times.