By Sweeny Murti
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It’s been an interesting year for Jorge Posada. Twelve months ago he was getting ready for spring training, somewhat defiant that he was no longer considered a catcher. We all know how that turned out—Posada started the year as a DH, had that role cut back to platoon duty by mid-season, and by season’s end made just one emergency appearance behind the plate.
Look back through our pages at wfan.com throughout 2011 and it was easy to see and hear what a trying year it was for the most emotional member of what used to be known as the Core Four. And it’s easy to see how the events of the last year recently led Posada to his decision to retire:
*Read here for Posada’s view early last spring, no longer catching for the Yankees.
*The worst day of Posada’s year and the aftermath, pulling himself from a lineup that had him batting ninth in May.
*Posada turned 40 years old in August.
*After the season ended, reality set in—his days as a Yankee were over.
Posada will probably tell you his worst season was 2008, when fresh off his best offensive season and signing a four-year contract he hit the disabled list for the first time in his career. But he rebounded from that with his last big offensive season and helped the Yankees win another World Series in 2009.
This time there was nothing to rebound from. Like Yankee greats Don Mattingly and Bernie Williams before him, Posada found himself playing out a contract that paid him more for past glories than current value, and the team had no intention of bringing him back.
I will remember Posada as perhaps the most honest player I have ever covered, having neither the deftness nor the desire to serve the media with bland say-nothing quotes. Posada spoke just as he played, always telling you exactly what he felt. The emotions that made Posada great sometimes led him astray too. When a misguided shove earned Posada a suspension late in the 2009 season, this is what I wrote about Posada and his emotion compared to that of his blood brother Derek Jeter:
“Posada doesn’t care to talk about home runs or RBIs or anything except wins. He’s cut from the same cloth as Jeter, just from a rougher patch of fabric. Jeter rarely lets you know what he’s really thinking. You just have to look at Posada to know what he’s thinking. If Jeter is the steely cold Michael Corleone, then Posada is his quick-trigger brother Sonny.”
As Posada now takes his place as a former Yankee great, I am reminded of another fiery, emotional Yankee—Billy Martin. On the day his number was retired, Martin said he knew he wasn’t the greatest Yankee, but he was the proudest. Posada, a lifelong Yankee, will likely feel the same way.
*Bernie Williams has drawn many special guests at his annual charity dinner. Recent honorees have included Paul O’Neill, Joe Girardi, Robinson Cano, and just last year Jorge Posada. This year, Bernie teams up with perhaps the biggest fan favorite of all, Don Mattingly.
Mattingly will be honored at the 10th annual Neighbors Helping Neighbors benefit, January 28th in Danbury CT. Always a fun night, the evening includes a Q & A with Bernie and Donnie (moderated by me!), a musical performance by Bernie and his band, and live and silent auctions that feature some unique items.
The event benefits the Hillside Food Outreach, helping feed hungry families in the Hudson Valley. Visit www.hillsidefoodoutreach.org for tickets.
*Yankees Hitting Coach Kevin Long will be holding youth clinics in the tri-state area in the coming days:
Jan 14-15 at Pro Swing in Port Chester.
Jan 16 at Zoned Sports Academy in Bridgewater, NJ.
Jan 18 at Diamond Nation in Flemington, NJ.
Long, as you’ll recall, is a “Cage Rat.” He loves teaching and is especially good in these youth clinics. Click on the links above for registration info.
Put yourself in Posada’s shoes — would you retire? Sound off below…