Keidel: Jorge Posada Drama

By Jason Keidel
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Jorge Posada suffered a stiff back, spawned by a bruised ego, assuaged by a bloated contract.

Posada is a starting player for the New York Yankees – an honor befallen few men. I won’t bore you with bromides, like the inequity of high-paid players and low-paid teachers, but Posada demands a turn under the microscope as a microcosm of the modern athlete.

(I’ll assume you’ve had a pulse over the last 48 hours and won’t recount his “hissy fit,” to quote Jack Curry, before removing himself from a game.)

The planet’s population is slightly less than 7 billion. Let’s make the modest assumption that 15 billion humans lived over the last century. According to my friend Bassam Oshana from STATS, LLC, 1,532 men have played at least one game for the New York Yankees, meaning about one in 10 million humans have held the highest honor of wearing that uniform, perhaps the most sacred in sports.

LISTEN: Keidel talks Posada flap with WFAN’s Lori Rubinson

This honor is lost on Posada. As is the $13 million he makes this year for the apparent dishonor of batting ninth for the most successful team in the history of American sports. Posada stretches the already chasmal gap between folks who fly around the world in corporate jets and those of us who live in it.

Making it worse was seeing the online onslaught from his family, whom he sadly used as conduits and emergency publicists, family fingers pounding keyboards on Facebook and Twitter, defending his honor, using a bad back (that no medic on the team treated) as a pretext for his disappearance. We don’t blame his family for trying it, but rather Posada for allowing it.

The Yankees, acolytes, and some jaded fans will wrap Posada in euphemisms. He’s a “gamer” and a “trooper” and a “proud man” who loves to play baseball. Then play, Jorge. Batting ninth shouldn’t break your spirit should you be all the things assumed of you. But Posada leaped from pride and pugnacity by refusing to look at the one place with all his problems and all his answers: his mirror.

We can easily close our collective eyes and replay those hand grenades he tossed toward second, or throws sailing into the outfield, or the myriad curveballs bouncing hopelessly past him to the backstop. We looked past those moments because he more than made up for it with his bat. But when you hit .160 you expose yourself to shifts in the lineup and in your status.

Posada nodded when asked after the game Saturday night if he felt disrespected. But it’s not disrespectful to abandon your team while teeming with self-pity because you don’t like where your name is scribbled on a card?

Only with sports do we engage in this ritual – questioning the demotion of an employee who clearly deserves it. When you (or a coworker) don’t get the job done, your boss finds someone who does. And they don’t care what your wife tweets or the paternal tones of your pops, who serenades cyberspace with pleas for patience.

There is no movement by the media or calls to the company to save your job, to protect your honor, to trade on your past, to italicize your myriad contributions over the years. Can you perform today? That’s what matters in Manhattan and in the Bronx and beyond.

The great equalizer between the pampered and the proletarian is Father Time. The lone solace we get is we can do our jobs for decades, sans the ignominy of a public demotion and equally ugly response.

Forgive those of us who feel neither empathy nor sympathy for Posada. He doesn’t owe me a thing. Perhaps he feels he doesn’t owe you, the fan, a thing. But he owes his employer, his team, and his brothers on that bench, a lot better.

No doubt you’d like to remember him in a more fitting refrain, perhaps his two fists and forearms flexed as he howled at second base in 2003, after his big hit against Pedro Martinez in the ALCS, the Aaron Boone game.

Indeed, this doesn’t erase his résumé, or forfeit his five rings. It doesn’t end his bromance with Derek Jeter, doesn’t alter the altar where his worshippers kneel. But this is now a bookmark in the baseball book he wrote. It’s his Scottie Pippen moment.

Posada, inserted late last night as a pinch hitter, got the perfunctory ovation from a crowd long on nostalgia and short on memory. We’ll see how long the group hug lasts if he’s hitting .160 in July. His mea culpa before the game won’t add to his woeful average.

Perhaps no matter how humble we are, stardom is bound to poison us. It has clearly corrupted Jorge Posada.

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Agree? Disagree? Let Keidel know in the comments below…

  • mike

    The Scotty Pippen reference is way off base. That was a player who was deparately needed by his team in a critical post-season end-game moment where his presence could easily have made the difference between moving on and going home and out of sheer ego he refused to go into the game. Jorge was hitting 165 and asked out of a regular season game out of embarrassment more than anything else and where his presence almost certainly would have been meaningless (or he wouldn’t have been batting ninth in the first place). Shoddy journalism at best if this journalism at all.

    • JK

      Oh, Mike. About ten prominent journalists referred to this as Posada’s Pippen moment. But I’m sure it feels good to snipe from the safety of your cubicle.

  • dabooch

    Possada is the poster boy for the aging crew. A Rod swings like a blind man, Jeter may as well bring a mallet and pound balls into the turf, and Possada .165 almost represents hi average as a home run producer. Don’t feel sorry for this bunch every Two Weeks they receive a direct deposit for: $2,307,692.30 that is about $2,300,000 more then three blue collars workers receive in the same time.

    • JK

      Indeed. Laughing all the way to the bank, as it were.

  • Tom

    Was Posada wrong, Yes . But Girardi was totally wrong. 1) He should have been spoken to before time. 2) There were a lot of other players who are struggling that could have been inserted there and he should not have been dropped all the way down to the 9 slot . In that lineup,you never have a slow runner in that slot. 3) Why did Girardi pick a Fox TV National Broadcast and especially vs the Red Sox to do it other than to embarrass him and try showing him up.

    • JK

      Girardi or Cashman had to say something, Tom, because the press caught wind of it. Perhaps they could have collaborated and handled it better, but the topic wasn’t going away. And Hal Steinbrenner told Cashman to address it publicly, so Brian had no choice.

  • Tom

    Posada was wrong but there are a lot more players on that team who could have been inserted in the 9 slot. He could have dropped him to the 8th slot and it would have been easier to take. Girardi should have spoke to him first and he should not have picked a national TV Fox broadcast vs the Red Sox ,no less, to do it. He was looking to upstage him.

  • Jim

    Al Kaline also asked for a cut in pay after a bad year

    • JK

      Didn’t know that, Jim. Thanks for the info.

  • GREG


    • JK

      It stands to reason that the money is indeed the reason he still plays. Certainly not his numbers.

  • JK

    Not sure pointing to other bad behavior justifies Posada’s. I respect your view, Tiffany, but should we not mention it simply because others have done worse.

  • Tiffany

    Isn’t Jorge allowed personal days; days that we take away from work and we can take for whatever reason suits us? The media blew this way out of proportion and should be the people that are really ashamed. Everyone has bad days; we just don’t have our bad days broadcast for all of America to see. The honor of wearing pinstripes that has been “bestowed” on him was something that he worked hard to earn and keep. There are individuals who have worn a variety of other team colors that have been much more of a disgrace then a man that asks out of a line-up to “clear his head”. This too will be old news in a minute or so…Aren’t the NBA and NHL in playoff time…Much more news worthy.

    • Chris

      Sure he’s allowed a personal day but why not ask for it the night before or as soon as you arrive at the ballpark? not after you see the lineup and not after you say that you put yourself in that position. That’s like arriving to your job, not liking what the day is going to be like, and then leaving.

      Take the blinders off. If this was A-Rod, he’d be crucified.

  • Kevin

    Georgy is a little brat face

  • Kurt Spitzner

    Players all demand a raise in a previously negotiated contract when they do better but never beg to have it reduced when they do not hold up their end of the bargain!In this regard baseball stink on ice!

    • JK

      Excellent point, Kurt. Except for Ted Williams, who demanded a pay cut toward the end of his career, I know of no other.

      • smky7

        Stan Musial was another great player who took a pay after a bad season.

      • Kurt Spitzner

        Yes,that is true but that is a totally different generation of ball player yet it still only happened once its sad to say!

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