I’m rather glad that the Jorge Posada drama erupted on a weekend when I was takings kids to soccer games and stuff, because it’s a drama that, for all of the interest and focus on it, you really can’t say a ton about.
Yes, Posada is owed criticism, but he also has built up so much residual good will that it’s hard to cast him in the “he quit on his team!” role too harshly, especially given his quick backtrack and apology. As he and a lot of other people said, Posada had a bad day. And, no matter how much I liked “Batman: The Killing Joke,” one bad day is not enough to turn someone into a super villain.
There is one interesting angle to all of this that I think it worth keeping in mind, however, mostly because it will continue to be salient as this season and maybe the next couple of seasons go on in New York. That’s the notion of how unique it is for Hall of Fame talents to cease to be useful as baseball players while still expected to be major contributors to winning teams.
It sure doesn’t seem like this happens very often. Because teams tend not to employ multiple superstars at once, the decline of the future Hall of Famer, almost by definition, usually means the decline of the team. He may still be the best player on the team, but he’s but not good enough to help the team win anything. He thus can take his unproductive at bats in relative peace, chasing that last milestone, riding out that last contract without it being too big a deal or, at the absolutely worst, going from team to team in his last year or two, Steve-Carlton-style.
Barring some amazing rebound, Posada and Derek Jeter are apparently reaching the end of the line. But, because the Yankees are a rare beast — a team that doesn’t seem to have to decline and rebuild like most others do — they’re doing so as starters on a playoff contender. Unlike, say, Craig Biggio in Houston, there is a much stronger sense of these players standing on the platform while the train leaves the station, and that’s bound to create a more complex dynamic for your average baseball lion in winter.
I don’t suppose this is the deepest observation ever — and most of the hype surrounding all of this is a function of a New York-Boston weekend, I presume — but it’s my biggest takeaway from all of this.