Wednesday, January 25, 2012

n.y. Yankees ~ Jorge Forged His Pinstripes With Fire

From the desk of:   BLAME CARLOS MAY

new york YANKEES:  ADIOS JORGE; The Feistiest of the Core.

And then there were two.

Faced and charged with the most unenviable task of putting an Era to pasture, Brian Cashman effectively did to Jorge Posada what he did in similarly cold fashion to Bernie Williams and began instigating with Derek Jeter during last year's off-season.  It's official now; Jorge Posada will play Major League Baseball no more.

Only Andy Pettitte remained ahead of Simon Bar Sinister's plots ever since the Yanks unceremoniously let the lefty mosey-on back home to play for Houston.  Andy came back as shrewed towards Cashman, as the GM himself, and exited the game on his own terms.  Mariano Rivera appears destined to do the same.

Ultimately however, The Core is No More.  The modern day River Avenue Legends are increasingly being raided and signed by the Retirement Club.  Like Andy and Bernie before him, Jorge Posada has turned in his Pinstripes for civilian life again.

I have long stated my high regard for Jorge Posada.  I went through the BTB archives and pulled these two posts:

ONE: - was just a post of appreciation for the Yankee catcher and about his Hall of Fame potential.  January 30, 2010 - Jorge Posada; the Jack Morris of Catchers

TWO: - came on the heels of the infamous day Jorge "called-in sick".  Looking back on that incident now gets me to thinking Jorge left this game in perfect Posada fashion; ever resistive and defiantly. - May 15, 2011 - Posada Deserves a Free Pass

Brought to you by the magic of copy-and-paste, and with some minor editing, here's a summary:

ONE:  Jorge Posada will never get the true credit for being, in a most literal sense, the Yankees Back Bone.   Jorge has always been willing to stick his neck out for his team mates, when so many of them over the last 8 years have not.   He was always willing to do what needed to be done when so many wouldn't.  Even if it meant going against the Yankee way.   Who else I ask you, Who? - took it upon himself to send an occasional message to the American League, - Don't Mistake Yankee Kindness For Our Weakness!  I defy you to compile that list for me.   Jorge always had his team mates backs!   So many would never step their game up and bring to the game what, at times, the situation dictated.

Because he's in the shadow of Jete and ARod, and other players and contracts of yore..(Giambi et-al), Jorge is made to simmer inside.   Sometimes the criticisms leveled against him are warranted where it concerns defense, but I'm not here to speak of that today.

Casey Stengel used to say of Yogi Berra, "I never play without my Guy".   Whether Yogi was behind the dish, left field or first base, Casey always played with his Guy.  Torre treated Jorge much the same way with little outward conveyance.  But you knew it.  For long the Yanks remained reliant on their Guy's bat in spite of so many "other" significant players on the field.

He gets knocked, disrespected, barreled over, nicked and under appreciated for all of it.   Pitchers and their own issues with Jorge were no less guilty contributing to this phenomena.   But I will tell you those same pitchers loved him when he connected in clutch moments.   WHO'S Knocking Jorge Then?  And I'm Not Even A Yankee Friendly.

No catcher has more RBI over the last 10 years in baseball.   Championships?   He's moving on to the next hand.  As it stands today, no he is not a Hall of Famer.  He's kind of like the Jack Morris of Catchers for his work over a decade.   He's close...Real close.   He should be able to solidify opinions over the next 2 years if hopefully Father Time is good to him.   Let's see.

TWO:   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. A player's waining years similarly engages 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 his career, or just their time together, to end.

Jorge Posada was wrong ("calling in sick") 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.  Additionally, you're a Yankee Fan, a New Yorker, an astute baseball fan, or a Mets Fan like myself, we all know Jorge is a really, really proud guy.

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 on the scene, 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 more and more all the time.

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 Jorge Posada's issues of comportment.

In Baseball, retirement is now more often than not, an ugly, unsympathetic, adversarial process. Modern Baseball has made the decision to, retire or release, much more cut-throat because of the money involved.   It used to be, the waining days of a career were times fans as well as owners and their GM's 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 a Date of Announcement.  Then on-field and on-going celebrations of appreciation could be properly planned.  An opportunity for the player to leave the game with dignity while in front of adoring fans and in a setting that also gave Clubs an honest and genuine opportunity to share their own warm sentiments and regard, used to be standard; once.

Bad Karma is brewing in the Bronx.  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.  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 Jorge once 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.

Jorge Posada: His Pinstripes Didn't Bend.

Allow me to introduce you to whom I thought was your real/unofficial/un-named Yankee Captain; all along - Jorge Posada. 

Derek Jeter was named Captain of the Yankees because The Boss thought he exuded Yankee Class, Winning, the confident Yankee Stoicism in a hot bed like NYC, and a belief Jeter would never embarrass the organization.  That's cool with me.  I'm not going there.

But sorry, 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.

Over his years, Jorge Posada above all Yankee regulars was the one player who consistently relished facing 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 Jorge's edgy spirit 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 step up and make known 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, while also 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 with the Media, he'd be the one to say what everyone was thinking, but speaking loudly so as to be heard.   That was Jorge.  And Hip Hip to 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.   I remember Joe Girardi being signed to be their catcher to great ridicule.  And today, all Posada knows is that he just can't make him totally go away.  During the years Girardi spent out of Pinstripes, 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 as manager, things have been going down hill for the embattled "ex-present-catcher" ever since.

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Today, I just wish him well.  I'll leave the retiring his number thing up to Yankee Fans.


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