Thank You, Jorge

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that this is a bittersweet time for Yankee fans. It’s especially tough for my generation of fans, I think, because one of the constants of our life as Yankees fans will no longer remain. Obviously, it was inevitable – but when stuff like this becomes official, I can’t help but to be emotional.

I’ve been watching Yankees games for as long as I can remember, and throughout my life as a fan, Jorge Posada has been there. My first group of favorite players was Tino Martinez, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte. Two of the three are gone. Now that Posada has officially planned to announce his retirement, he’ll move on as well, leaving me with that sense of bittersweet nostalgia.

Jorge, I’d like to thank you for your 17 year-service to these New York Yankees. You’ve been making an impact for my entire life, and it’s going to be weird knowing that you’d no longer be there.

There are so many things I’m going to miss about Jorge Posada. His production for the Yankees is the most obvious reason to miss him. In fact, I think he has himself a fair case for the Hall of Fame. When we think of potential Hall of Fame catchers from this era, Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez come to mind. But I feel that Jorge Posada should be right in the mix of this discussion.

Especially for the catching position, defense is important. Posada perhaps has not been known as a star defensive catcher, but in certain areas, he has been significantly better than Piazza and Rodriguez. Of the three, Rodriguez has committed the most errors behind the plate with 137, but he does have the longest career of the three. Mike Piazza committed 124 errors in his 15 years as a catcher, 5 less years than Pudge. But Jorge Posada blows them away, having committed just 88 errors in his catching career. Posada also has the best fielding percentage at .992. And Yankees fans will always remember May 17, 1998, the day of David Wells’ perfect game, which was caught by none other than Jorge himself. Posada also has been a weapon with the bat, having hit the most home runs since 2000 by catchers with 240. He has exceeded the 1,000 RBI plateau, with 1065 for his career, to go along with a more-than-respectable .273 average, all while playing in baseball’s hardest division for the team in the city that expects you to perform like no other.

Jorge’s presence will surely be missed. A switch-hitting power hitter that can fit right into the middle of the lineup? Definitely the kind of guy all managers would enjoy penciling into the lineup on any given day. But it’s not just his offensive presence – it’s his attitude, his passion for the game and for his teammates, his ability to be a leader in the clubhouse – that’s what the Yankees and I will miss the most about Jorge Posada.

Posada always had a certain toughness about him, and I love that in a man. If you mess with a Yankee, you’re going to mess with Jorge. I’ll never forget the animosity between Jorge Posada and Pedro Martinez. Game 3 of the 2003 ALCS, the Pedro-pushes-Don-Zimmer incident, and the subsequent fury of Posada – just one example of Jorge’s passion.

Another favorite Posada moment of mine coincides with one of my favorite Yankees moments: the 2009 World Series, game 6, Pedro giving up runs, and Posada loving every minute of it. This picture says it all:

Good times…

2011 was rough for Posada both on and off he field. I think much of his struggles this past season were due to him being preoccupied worrying about his son, who had to have another surgery in June. Jorge and his wife Laura have a charity dedicated to helping families who have children with craniosynostosis, yet another reason to love this guy.

As difficult as 2011 was for Jorge, it ended on a high note. I got a kick out of seeing him catch in September. Emergency circumstances arose, and Jorge was ready to respond to his manager’s call:

“I got a chance to get back behind the plate,” Posada said. “I have my equipment with me. I’m an emergency catcher, like I was today. Joe said, ‘What do you think?’ So I said, ‘Well, if you need me, I’m there.’ He said, ‘Go ahead. It’s like riding a bike.’ I was excited. It was fun. I’ll be sore tomorrow, but I’ll sleep well tonight (ESPN.)”

The best thing about that was seeing Jorge catch Howie Kendrick trying to steal. He also picked up a hit that day.

And although the 2011 didn’t end the way Yankees fans had hoped, Jorge Posada was strong in the final stretch. On September 21, he delivered, coming through in the clutch with a  pinch hit, go-ahead two-run single in the bottom of the 8th inning, giving the Yankees the lead in the game that clinched the AL East Division title. In the postseason, though unfortunately cut short, Posada was the most lethal hitter on the Yankees. He hit a sizzling .429 in the ALDS, proving that when the stakes are high, he rises to the occasion, and even exceeds expectations.

It was a fitting way to end his career. I hate to see him go, but at least he’s going as a Yankee.

Jorge, Yankees fans will never forget you. Consider this the ending of one of the many chapters of your Yankee life. I’m confident that I’ll see you again involved with the Yankees in the future – you’d be a killer manager.

Thank you for everything, Jorge. Hitting the first home run in the new Yankee Stadium, being a 5-time All-Star, 5-time Silver Slugger recipient, and being a 4-time World Series Champion.

But most importantly, thank you for being the Yankee and the man you were. You’re one of the main reasons to why I grew up as a Yankees fan. I love you.

Best of luck in your future, Jorge.

5 Comments

This was awesome. A great tribute to a legend like Jorge. It is a very bittersweet day as I have now lost my two favorite yankees from my childhood years (Andy P and Jorge). Luckily there is always the Legends Game… HIp!! HIP!!!…..

Our generation growing up was lucky enough to experience the careers of players like Jorge. hope this new breed of Yankees (Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos) will be just as amazing as the ones we knew. I’ll definitely be looking forward to Old Timer’s Day.

Virginia,

WONDERFUL piece on Jorge. Loved it.

It really just won’t be the same without him. When you think of Jeter being the captain of the team, I’ve always felt Posada was like an unofficial co-captain because of his leadership and tenacity.

I’m definitely gonna miss him.

http://martelli.mlblogs.com/2012/01/09/the-very-best-of-jorge-posada/

He will be missed. I was on the field for a Yankees, Rays batting practice at the stadium. He and Johnny Damon were the only two players to come back and greet the fans.
-Mateo Fischer
http://mateofischer.mlblogs.com

I’m so glad to see that The Yankees and their fans are more than comfortable to hand the future of the Catcher’s position over to Jesus Montero. Especially now that he’s in Seattle.

But, with all due respect, I do wish Jorge well. 2011 will probably not be remembered as his best all around ‘good-guy’ year, but his over all career will cover that. Like Sox fans are doing with Varitek http://cordaro9418.mlblogs.com/2011/12/15/more-questions-than-answers/ you guys will have to get past the idea of seeing that #20 on someone else. And like ‘Tek, Jorge will now be part of the debate of guys who will forever be on the Hall of Fame bubble with neither making it.

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