By Sweeny Murti
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For weeks now Jorge Posada has been in a slump. Fans kept asking me how long the Yankees were going to stick with him. Posada wondered that himself about ten days ago, thanking Joe Girardi for keeping him in the lineup and believing in him.
Posada gets a lot of love for being a Yankee with championship pedigree. But the masses turn quickly when you’re hitting .165.
Put yourself in Posada’s shoes for a minute. You’re 39 years old, and you’re the full-time DH for the first time in your career. You come to bat once every 45 minutes then go sit down and watch the rest of your team play. When you’re winning, it’s ok. But when you’re losing, and losing because the team isn’t hitting, you look yourself in the mirror and ask yourself, “Exactly what am I contributing right now?”
When the season began you thought maybe you had a couple years left in your career. Now you aren’t even sure you have a couple more days left. You’ve been a confident hitter your whole life, and now doubt is really creeping in.
As your slump and the team’s sloppy play continue, you find yourself batting ninth in the lineup. You know it’s nobody’s fault but yours, and you freely admit that. But the fact that still eats at you is you aren’t helping the team at all, and now it’s getting harder. You try to work off some of your frustration by doing some extra work during batting practice and then your back tightens up.
Maybe you think to yourself, “What else can go wrong?” And then you tell the manager that maybe it’s better that you just don’t play today.
Posada wasn’t lying when he said he needed to clear his head. And he wasn’t lying when he said his back locked up. Maybe it wasn’t enough to knock him out of a game under normal circumstances, but with his head on another planet and his stroke somewhere in the Twilight Zone, this was the last straw.
Posada did admit that it gave him the excuse to tell Girardi he couldn’t play, but he also admitted a day later the whole thing was something he wished he could take back, that he just had “a bad day.”
It’s easy to say Posada quit on the Yankees Saturday night. But if you had spoken with Posada nearly every day for the last few weeks, or even three hours before the game Saturday, you would realize that batting ninth was not something that made him quit. He wasn’t being a baby.
Here are some highlights from Posada’s session with reporters Sunday afternoon. Listen to the emotion in his voice and tell me if that’s the sound of a man who threw a middle finger at Joe Girardi and deserves the overspill of hatred thrown at him from the airwaves and the internet:
Don’t get me wrong—this was not Jorge Posada’s finest hour. But Posada has played over 1,700 games for the Yankees. He’s been a major cog in the World Series teams of the last Yankee dynasty and the 2009 team. And he gets no benefit of the doubt, no chance to explain himself?
For a while on Saturday fans thought Posada might retire and they welcomed the idea. That day is coming sooner rather than later, but it wasn’t going to happen that fast, and it wasn’t fair to think a professional athlete and competitor would quit that abruptly.
It’s no fun watching stars of the past get old. They’re going to stumble a lot more than we remember them doing before. It doesn’t mean they should get a free pass. They still have to perform because it’s about winning in this town, with this team.
Posada knows he handled things poorly on Saturday. He wants a do-over. Are you ready to give it to him? If you aren’t, then go back and listen to him again.
Your thoughts on the Posada saga? Let Sweeny know in the comments below…