Monday, May 16, 2011

Jorge Posada's Milkshake

Okay, after giving it some thought, here's my take on the Posada situation. First of all, I'm not going to call it "Posadagate." That's just stupid.

Here's what we've heard:

* On Saturday night, at home against The Scum, Yankee manager Joe Girardi put Jorge Posada, once the Yankee catcher (like he himself once was) but now in decline and the (virtually) full-time designated hitter, in the lineup batting 9th. An insult, but a warranted one, as Jorge was batting .165 and had exactly zero hits this season against lefthanded pitchers.

* Jorge told Joe that he wanted out of the lineup entirely, saying he had to clear his head. If that was all he said, and he didn't get upset, then this is a fair request. But the reports we've been hearing suggest that Jorge did get upset.

* Laura Posada, Jorge's fabulous lawyer-turned-fitness instructor wife, posted on Twitter that Jorge had a bad back -- which, apparently, is not what what Jorge told Joe. So if this is true, how did Jorge hurt his back? From throwing a fit? It can't be from throwing a baseball. He hasn't been doing too much of that lately, and, as the greatest catcher of all time, Yogi Berra, might say, even when he could throw, he couldn't throw. (Still better at it than Mike Piazza, though.)

* Yankee general manager Brian Cashman went on the Saturday night Fox Game of the Week broadcast, and said that Jorge's absence from the lineup had nothing to do with injury.

* Jack Curry of the YES Network, formerly of the New York Times, opened the YES postgame show (YES airs pre- and postgame shows regardless of whether they are the ones broadcasting the game) with the story, as told to him by "Yankee officials," that Jorge said he was insulted by batting 9th, threw a fit, and took himself out of the lineup. Now, if the 1970s-80s version of George Steinbrenner was still running the team, I would believe that he (George) said this, whether he believed it or not. This is a man who once told a player, "You looked like a monkey trying to fuck a football out there!" among other player- , manager- , coach- and other employee-beratings. As another blogger put it, "I don't see why the Yankees would make that up and why Curry would report it if he didn't believe it to be true."

* According to both Joe and Jorge, in their respective postgame meetings with the media, Jorge didn't mention anything about his back stiffness in their brief meeting. Oy vey, this means that Jorge is calling his impossibly bodacious and very nice wife a liar. (I met Laura once: She is very nice, and that refers to how she treats people, not just how she looks... and she looks even better in person. Maybe someday I'll tell that story, but suffice it to say that I would've met Jorge, too, if I'd stuck around a little longer.)

*

So... Who's right, and who's wrong? Well, we don't have all the facts, and we might never have them all. But here's what we can guess based on the preceding:

* Nobody comes out looking like a winner. As Danny DeVito pointed out in The War of the Roses, in a case like this, "There is no winning. There are only degrees of losing."

* Cashman ends up looking less bad, but he's still the guy who gave Jorge a contract that calls for $13 million a year, including his big-slump last season and his horrendous start this season. But while he is in a bad spot because of this, he (if anybody) has the moral high ground here.

* Jorge ends up looking very, very bad. As Lisa Swan of Subway Squawkers (see link to the right) puts it, Jorge was "quitting on (his) team a la Manny Ramirez." Comparing Jorge to Manny Ramirez for quitting on his team speaks volumes. Finding it hard to accept that you're in a nasty slump -- or even at the end of your career, if that's what this is -- is one thing. But this...

* Either Jorge or Laura is lying. Now, I did say that Laura is a lawyer, but in this case, if a bad back had nothing to do with it, then maybe she's just repeating something he said, meaning the onus for the lie is on him.

* If Jorge had simply said, "Joe, if you think my hitting is bad enough to put me in the 9 hole, then maybe you should give me a few days off, to clear my head and maybe get some practice in and get straightened out," that would have been fine. But that doesn't appear to be what happened.

*

And what of Joe Girardi? The man who was the starting catcher on the 1996 World Champions, when Jorge Posada was just an up-and-comer?

To refresh your memory: Column A is the season, Column B is the number of plate appearances for Girardi, and Column C is the number of plate appearances for Posada:

1996 471 14 (at 309, Jim Leyritz was the backup catcher that glorious season)
1997 433 224
1998 279 409
1999 229 437
2000 0 624 (Girardi gone to Cubs, Yanks' backup was the immortal Chris Turner)

As Squawker Lisa also points out, Posada was no factor in the Yanks' '96 run. When we say, "Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada have won 5 World Series," or, "Jeter, Rivera, Pettitte and Posada have 5 rings," it's a slight stretch. To be completely honest, I don't even know if Posada was even given a ring for '96. So that "Core Four" nickname is also a bit of a stretch.

The "Cour Four" nickname also seems to suggest that we're not supposed to remember ALL the players who were on the 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2000 World Champions, in addition to the preceding: David Cone, Tino Martinez, Paul O'Neill, Bernie Williams, Ramiro Mendoza, Jeff Nelson and Luis Sojo. (O'Neill also won a ring with the '90 Reds, Cone won one with the '92 Jays, giving them 5 each). Not to mention the guys who were World Champs in 1996, '98 and '99 but not 2000: Joe Girardi and Darryl Strawberry. And the ones who were World Champs in 1998, 1999 and 2000 but not 1996: Chuck Knoblauch , Scott Brosius, Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, and some guys you may have already forgotten were there: Alfonso Soriano, Shane Spencer, Ricky Ledee and Clay Bellinger.

But it was Girardi, not Posada, who was the '96 catcher, the catcher who brought the Yankees back to glory. No, he wasn't a better player at his peak than Posada, and from '98 onward it was silly to suggest that he was better. But he was still good enough behind the plate that he was back there for Cone's perfect game in '99, as well as Dwight Gooden's no-hitter in '96. (Posada caught David Wells' perfecto in '98.)

Can you imagine There Will Be Blood redone, with Girardi taking the Daniel Day-Lewis role and Posada sitting in (or should that be crouching?) for Paul Dano?

Joe: "Sluuuuuuuumpage! Slumpage, Jorge, you boy! Drained dry. Here: You have a milkshake, and the pitcher has a straw. His straw reaches acrooooooooss the sixty feet, six inches, and starts to drink your milkshake. He... drinks... your... milkshake! Slurrrrp! He drinks it up!"

Jorge: "Don't bully me, Joe!"

Joe: "Did you think your song and dance and your fitness-instructor wife would help you, Jorge? I am the catcher of the '96 Yankees! I am who the Boss had chosen! I'm smarter than you, Jorge! And I'm older!"

*

Back to reality. Or, at least, to what we can determine from reality.

Jorge later said, "It’s just one of those days that you wish you could have back. I talked to Girardi and kind of apologized to him. I had a bad day. Reflecting on it, everything, all the frustration came out. I’m trying to move on."

Referring to the error last night that gave the Red Sox their 7th run, and I'm sure she's grateful that I'm not blaming him for the loss (I'm blaming the team as a whole for letting the Red Sox drink their milkshake this weekend), Squawker Lisa said this, and it's a powerful statement:

No, A-Rod had a bad day, when the ball went through his legs, Bill Buckner-style, last night. Quitting on your team a la Manny Ramirez isn't a bad day; it shows some bad character.

Milkshake. Draiiiiiiiinage! All gone!

*

To top it all off, last night, there were lots of signs in Yankee Stadium II supporting Jorge. Not the club, not the manager, the player who did wrong. The Bleacher Creatures chanted for him at the start of the game. And when Joe sent him up to pinch-hit in the 8th, Jorge got a massive standing ovation, probably bigger than he'll get at Old Timers' Day (assuming, after this, he gets invited) or when his Monument Park Plaque is dedicated (assuming, after this, that he gets one).

Were the fans out of line to treat Jorge like a hero? Yes, he has been a hero. No, he was not a hero this weekend.

Look, plenty of players have done worse things than what Jorge did. Babe Ruth punched an umpire. Joe DiMaggio punched his wife. Mickey Mantle went through drinks and women like they were going out of style. David Ortiz was allowed to play in this series even though he's a caught, lying and unrepentant steroid cheater. To say nothing of the other steroid cheats, from Barry Bonds to the still-unproven Roger Clemens. And, of course, Bonds and Clemens have been louses for other reasons. Pete Rose bet on games he was managing. Joe Jackson and 6 teammates threw a World Series (and 1 other teammate, Buck Weaver, got part of the blame because he didn't report it). Ty Cobb, don't get me started. And, sorry, Bob Costas, but you're wrong: Ted Williams was not a saint.

Yet they still get honored with monuments and highways and statues.

It's up to Jorge to decide whether this was just a regrettable blip on the radar screen, or the way he wants to be remembered.

*

Suzyn Waldman, as she sometimes does, got a little emotional over Jorge's ovation. And, what's more, we got a picture of Laura with something of a wardrobe malfunction. It may just be a picture defect, but that dress looks a little see-through.

http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2011/05/16/bc-morning-show-suzyn-waldman-gets-a-little-emotional/

She's about as far from a bimbo as you can get. Yeah, all that and brains, too. Of all the "How in the world did HE land HER?" couples, this may be the most lopsided since Ric Ocasek of The Cars got Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue cover girl Paulina Porizkova.

Still, that she got dragged into this is bad, and speaks badly for him, not her.

I hope this is, or is about to be, fully blown over. If not, it could be a big honkin' elephant in the room. You ever see an elephant in a sports team's clubhouse? It's never a good thing to have.

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