Monday, May 16, 2011

Posada Should Have Gotten Bronx Cheer Not Standing O

It only took one day for New York fans to forgive Yankees designated hitter Jorge Posada for abruptly yanking himself from the line-up one hour before a critical game against the Boston Red Sox.  The slumping Posada got a standing ovation from most fans when he pinch-hit for Andruw Jones in the eighth-inning of last night's 7-5 loss to their division rivals.

Neither Posada or the Yankees deserve any sort of applause after dropping their fifth straight game and nine of their last 12.

True blue Yankee fans will claim that the one-time starting catcher had shown remorse for his temper tantrum and earned the right to be upset after being demoted to batting in the ninth spot by manager Joe Girardi.  A spot where he hasn't hit in 12 years.

Truth is, Posada has been moping since platooning with Francisco Cervelli last year and was batting a measly .165 when Girardi penciled the prideful DH in at the # 9 spot.

Besides Posada's lack of production, it is his lack of clubhouse instinct.  After 17 years in the big leagues, you would think Posada would have figured out that something was in the wind.  A player with less of a history with the Yankees would have been benched weeks ago.  He was hanging on by tenure and World Series rings.  The statistics don't lie, so why was it such a surprise?

The anemic batting average aside, Posada hasn't hit a leftie in his last 24 at-bats.  His six home-runs  came mostly during a hot streak early in the season when it looked like he might realistically bash 40 homers this season.

Posada has always been a notorious fast starter who slows down in the stretch.  What else could Girardi do?  Posada had 38 games to prove his worth at DH and produced diddly.  It seems like ages ago since the former-catcher was an All-Star at that position and it is sad to see him lose control--especially during a crucial series and losing streak.

Derek Jeter went to bat for his long-time friend last night, and rightfully so.  They've shared a lot over the past 16 years.  Even so, Jeter sounded vague when it came to details about the spat with Girardi without rocking the boat.  Typical Jeter.

"But my understanding is he [Posada] went, told the manager he needed a day, and if that's the case, I don't see anything wrong with that," said The Captain.

The other remaining member of the Core Four, Mariano Rivera was just as diplomatic after he was asked if Posada should have apologized.  "I don't know," said the closer.  "That's a decision he has to make."

The Yankees are putting Posada's issue on the back burner and spinning a nonchalant slant on the story.  He will not be disciplined.  The Yankees have more pressing things to concern themselves with.

Age has reared it's ugly head in more than Posada's form.  Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are also on the back-end of 30--and showing it.  The whole team has creaking joints holding it together.

The three-game sweep by Boston has put the talented Red Sox back into the thick of the AL East race and the Yankees now face the younger, division-leading Tampa Bay Rays for three games.

Next weekend's series against cross-town rivals the Mets once looked like a minor distraction.  Now, where these games were once just for New York bragging rights, they might be orange and blue nails in the Yankees' coffin.

The 39 year-old Posada has earned the right to discuss his position with his manager but his timing was awful.  He is not in any way, shape or form to argue with facts.  And the fact is Posada is a burden to the team right now.  An apology is not enough.

"I let some people down," Posada confessed. "All the frustration just came out."

It is sad to see a once-great warrior try to battle his demise.  It was a shame to see the injury-plagued Ken Griffey Jr. go through the same motions in his final years.  Or any other sports star.  Only an athlete knows that frustration and, as with a player of Posada's stature, it could be unfathomable.

Girardi hasn't revealed how long Posada (with 30 strikeouts in 109 at-bats) would sit while he figures out what to do with his $13 million lame duck.

"Yeah, he's gotten off to a real slow start," said Girardi.  "But I don't think that's how this chapter has to end this year for him."

If Posada is a borderline Hall of Fame candidate, I hope voters remember the 15 great years behind and at the plate, not the foot-stamping behavior of a player having a "bad day."

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