Sunday, May 15, 2011

N.Y. YANKEES ~ Posada Deserves A Free Pass

From the desk of:  BLAME CARLOS MAY

new york YANKEES: ...Because Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.

Jorge Posada was wrong Saturday.   There's no getting around that.   But I'm not about to start bashing Jorge's actions prior to game time nor for his post-game follow-up.   If you have an understanding that most careers do not end on the greatest of terms, Saturday's incident would preclude you from criticizing Jorge also.

There is a constant in sports and with players; - athletes almost never go out on top.  They're usually forced into retirement because a replacement arrived, or they don't heal/recover from injuries as well as they once did.  Or, their skills have eroded to the point where the club is forced to take action against said player.  Those are just a few of many reasons why careers end on less than positive notes and we see it all the time. 

It's the rare occasion when a player retires "on-time".  That in itself is an arbitrary and wholly subjective time-stamp though.   But big letters on a wall are easy to read when you don't ignore they're there.  Players rarely take the initiative and alleviate clubs from having to make unpopular decisions against them.  Millions of modern day dollars make players even more reluctant to exercise pragmatism when their skills, stature, and role on the team all come into question.  But when a team is ultimately compelled to take action, it's almost always a contentious situation.  Many times the player takes it as a slight and views it as a form of disrespect.  How much they decide to wear their emotions on their sleeves and share their displeasure with the Media is another matter.  But this is not a posting regarding issues of comportment.
The distasteful wrangling and public debate involved in determining when a career should end sort of becomes a pseudo-arbitration hearing that takes place in the last three to four years of a player's career as opposed to the actual Arbitration process that takes place after the player's fourth year in the Bigs.  The player's side makes their case for a chance at positive career advancement while the club issues a manifesto as to why said player does not deserve the player's asking price.  It forces negativity upon the situation.
A player's waining years similarly place player and club into a contentious confrontation.  A player sets out to justify his continued value to the team, while the club sometimes is looking for the career, or just their time together, to end.

Jorge Posada:  His Pinstripes Didn't Bend.
Ladies and Gentlemen; Yankee Fans of all ages....allow me to introduce you to whom I think was your real/unofficial/un-named Yankee Captain; Jorge Posada. 

That's Right!  I said it. 

Derek Jeter was named Captain of the Yankees because The Boss thought he exuded Yankee Class, Winning, and confident Yankee Stoicism in a hot bed like NYC.  That's cool with me.  I'm not going there. 

But Jorge Posada was the Yankees' back-bone in a most literal sense.  For all his fire, passion, and grit, he never received his full share of respect.  He wasn't the best or flashiest player in Pinstripes.  He had flaws.., like fans; like regular people; like us!  But he provided the Yankees with something very few of his team mates over the years couldn't or wouldn't provide; - like I said - A Back-Bone, and a Response. 

Jorge Posada above all Yankee regulars over his years here, has been the one player who consistently was willing to face the more dastardly aspects of Baseball head-on.  I simply remind you of the playoffs versus Boston and the verbal/visual exchange Jorge and Pedro Martinez engaged in.  That would probably be the most famous instance, but that protectionist spirit of his was a nightly attribute.  During those Torre Years, the book was out on the Yankees.  They were capable of being PUNKED-Out.  If no one else, Jorge Posada was always the first to say, That Wouldn't Fly.

Back in the days of the heated Mariners/Yankees Rivalries, tempers often flared up causing both teams to empty dugouts and bullpens numerous times.  When A-Rod still played in Seattle, Derek Jeter was infamously criticized many times for conveniently finding Alex Rodriguez in the crowd and therefore, cancelling each other out (even smiling and laughing along the way).

Once upon a time a left fielder named Chad Curtis dared criticize the Captain for such cowardly acts.  He was disappeared to the Island of Misfit and Outspoken Yankees.  Jorge Posada wouldn't have thrown Jeter under the bus like Curtis did to the Media.  But Jorge's actions on the field speak loud and clear.  Then after a game, he'd be the one to say what everyone was thinking; while only speaking for himself of course, but speaking loudly so as to be heard.  That's Jorge.

Hip that!

But here's something I'm not so Hip on. 

I never did subscribe to the Big Brother-Little Brother cow-chip the Media always tried to throw at us in the late 1990's when discussing the relationship between Jorge Posada and Joe Girardi.  That's over-rated.  I remember Jorge chomping at the bit, dying to get Girardi out of the way so as to become the everyday starter.  And I'm just guessing and stabbing here - but why wouldn't Jorge be somewhat puzzled as to why Girardi received so much credit for Jorge's early successes?  Hmmm?  How ponderous is it Girardi gets too much credit for training his understudy and now finds himself as the guy trying to take him out?

It would seem to me Joe Girardi has been more of a hindrance to Jorge's early and late career like a recurring bout of herpes.  He doesn't know how he came across Joe.  All Posada knows is that he just can't make him totally go away.  And while Joe was in remission, Jorge Posada went on to total more RBI than any other catcher in Baseball during the 2000's.  Ever since Joe flared back into Jorge's life a few years ago, things have been going down hill for the embattled ex-catcher ever since.  Saturday night, Jorge's dilemma was clearly with his lips and it showed.

OLD CODES Need Not Apply:

In Baseball, retirement is now more often than not, an ugly, unsympathetic, character testing process.  Modern Baseball has made the decision to retire or release, that much more cut-throat because of the money involved.  It used to be, the last few days of a career were times we (fans and owners) knowingly looked the other way out of respect for their years of hometown play.  But with that accorded respect, a return of favor was somewhat expected.  A silent acknowledgement by the player often set in motion a plan to set the Date of Announcement; On-Field and on-going celebrations of appreciation, and an opportunity for the player to leave the game with dignity while in front of  adoring fans and in a setting that also gave ball clubs an honest and genuine opportunity to share their own warm sentiments and regard.

Bad times are a brewing in the Bronx.  I'm dying to get into this in my next post.  Meanwhile, Brian Cashman, Joe Girardi, and Jorge Posada are three converging forces and it's not good.  Only Posada runs the risk of getting subducted.  Cashman is intent on being a schmuck the rest of his time in the Bronx.  He's gone.  He's dishing out a bad attitude any chance he gets these days knowing he's leaving.  He isn't sticking around and putting up with Randy Levine anymore.  Girardi still has a job to do and this will not be the last time Girardi and Posada bump heads this season.  There is no love between the two.  Girardi has slighted him too many times as manager for his catching.  More of this is definitely on the way should Posada continue to struggle and chose not to retire.

And Jorge?  Jorge Posada Day at 161st Street and River Avenue this summer would be glorious for everybody.  Why risk a bad slip and fall when you can go out in the grandest of fashion?


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