Buster Olney reported Sunday morning that Yankees catcher Jorge Posada would be retiring after 17 seasons of wearing pinstripes. Growing up a Red Sox fan, I always loved players like Trot Nixon, Lou Merloni and Shea Hillenbrand for being notorious Yankee-killers; constantly having big games in tight Boston-New York matchups. But for every Bird, there is a Magic; for every Brady, a Manning; and for every Yankee-killer, a Red Sox-killer. Posada was that Red Sox-killer. As excited as I would be to watch Nixon or Merloni step up in the late innings of these rivalries, I would dread seeing Posada, a quintessential Yankee, in a similar position as he inevitably delivered.
With every great rivalry there is a tempered respect that offsets the two powerhouses and, even in Boston, no one deserved that respect more than the “Core Four” of Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and, of course, Posada.
However, for Posada, that respect seems to have waned a bit amongst his New York fan base. At age 40, it seems about time that Posada should retire as the champion he is, but the timing is perhaps a year too late. When the Yankees signed former Dodgers catcher Russell Martin a year ago, it was clear that Posada’s role was being altered and reduced, which was no surprise given Posada’s age. Tensions began to flare in spring training when manager Joe Girardi informed Posada he would not be catching in any capacity in 2011, but instead filling the Yankees’ needs at DH.
However, when Posada’s offensive numbers began to falter in the regular season, Girardi slotted the former Catcher as the ninth position in the batting order. Seemingly as a result of this positioning, Posada infamously removed himself from the lineup for that night’s game against none other than the Red Sox. This tumult was an undertone in the clubhouse and a topic of discussion around the league for the entirety of the season and ended the career of the five-time world champion on a sour note.
A near-certain lock to be immortalized in Yankee Stadium’s Monument Park, Posada posted a career .273 average with a .992 fielding percentage en route to five All-Star bids and five World Series titles. Hopefully, Posada’s media-worthy 2011 season will not overshadow these accomplishments and there is reason to believe that it shouldn’t.
This past June, Yankees fans demonstrated their loyalty on “Old Timer’s Day” when Joe Torre, manager in four of Posada’s five World Series victories, returned to the Bronx for the first time since his own turbulent departure after the 2007 season and the release of his controversial tell-all, “The Yankee Years.” Despite this, Yankee fans welcomed Torre with a standing ovation proving for certain that once a Yankee, always a Yankee.
Jorge Posada will always be a Yankee.