Because I’m a sports fan and, more specifically, a Yankees fan, I feel the need to weigh in on this issue. It is hard, however, to find something that no one has yet said about it. For those of you who don’t know the situation, here’s a quick review.
On Saturday, Yankee DH Jorge Posada was informed at 4 pm that he would be batting 9th in that evening’s game against the Boston Red Sox. At about 6 pm, Posada apparently threw a hissy fit and told manager Joe Girardi that he “needed a day.” Essentially, he refused to play because he was reportedly upset with batting 9th. Suddenly, during the 2nd inning of the game, General Manager Brian Cashman made a statement on FOX that Posada refused to play, there was no injury and Jorge would speak to the press after. A couple of innings later, Laura Posada (Jorge’s wife) tweeted that Jorge had a back injury. After the game, Jorge talked to the press, said he had a stiff back but had taken more of a mental day off.
Rumors throughout the night went from Posada retiring, to the Yankees voiding his contract, to the Yankees suspending him, to him being the father of Steve Nash’s wife’s African-American baby. Ok, I made one of those up, but the point is, things got out of hand.
As a big-time Yankees fan, I went through a few different emotions throughout the night. At first, when I thought Jorge was retiring, I felt a little sad. I also thought that maybe he was so frustrated that he wasn’t helping the team, that he had decided to just do the noble thing and get out of the way. The ultimate team player, right? Then, when it came out that he might have refused to play because he was scheduled to hit 9th and took it as an insult, that kind of changed. The term “baby bitch” may have come out of my mouth once or twice. I felt hurt that a guy whom I’ve rooted for since i was 13 years old would let his pride get in the way of what was really best for the team.
By the end of the night, I didn’t really care. Everyone was saying the right things to the press. Joe Girardi was honest with the media but seemed to be holding something back, and Posada stuck to his stiff back and mental day stories. He even said that he went to see a chiropractor, although he never informed the Yankees, the training staff or the manager about his supposed stiff back. My biggest problem is this: The Yankees came into the night reeling. They had lost three games in a row and 8 of 11. They needed to come together to play the game the right way and win. They needed their leaders to step up and motivate them. Instead, one of their most important leaders seemingly quit on them because he had to bat 9th in the order.
The fact of the matter is that Posada has been struggling so badly this season that he’s probably lucky to be in the lineup at all. He is hitting .165 in 33 games. His home runs, which came so quickly in the first couple of weeks of the season, have dried up. He is stone cold struggling, and Girardi has stuck with him all season despite clamoring from fans and the press to bring up Jorge Vazquez or the great Jesus Montero. Just a couple of weeks ago it was reported that Jorge had gone to Joe Girardi and thanked Joe for sticking with him in the lineup while he tried to figure out his struggles. How long is a manager supposed to stick with an aging, struggling player? Should he get 30 games? 50? 100? A full season to turn it around?
The answer is not simple at all. I have been watching almost all of the games this season. Posada hasn’t looked terrible at the plate. He doesn’t seem slow (he boomed a double off of a 100 mph Justin Verlander fastball a couple weeks ago). The fact is, this entire team is struggling. Only two players (Granderson and Cano) are above .260, and neither of them is higher than .281. Watching this team hit with runners in scoring position the last two weeks has been frustrating. The whole team looks awful. How much blame can go to one man? On the other hand, it’s the manager’s job to do what’s best for the team. If he has to shake something up, it is his duty to do so. If you’re the worst of a bad lineup, how upset can you get if you get shuffled lower in the order?
In the days since the Posada incident, all sides have come together and seemingly resolved this issue. Jorge has apologized to his manager and general manager and they have hashed out all of their issues. Is everything peachy in Yankeeland? It better be. This team has lost five games in a row and is suffering through listless, terrible hitting and a possible clubhouse crisis. It’s time for the leaders of this team to really step up and right this ship, or the Posada situation could go south very quickly. The end of relationships between legacy players and their teams are not often pretty. If this isn’t nipped in the bud quickly, it could be a long summer in The Bronx.
image courtesy of: http://www.foxsports.com
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