On a weekend filled with Tebowmania and NFL wild card action, it was going to take a lot for baseball to move the national news needle. And yet New York Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was able to do just that, with reports surfacing that the 40-year-old plans to hang 'em up after 17 seasons in the Bronx. WFAN's Sweeney Murti broke the news first.
In an age when many aging vets woefully hang around spring training camps hoping for one last ride, it's nice to see Posada electing for a route that won't end with him announcing a retirement two seasons after the fact. He'll receive all the plaudits he's due whenever he officially announces this closure-bringing move and he'll start the type of Hall of Fame debate that's actually fun to stage (not the steroid-centered kind that will begin on a giant scale with next year's ballot).
As a power-hitting catcher on five World Series title teams, Posada was great fun to watch. Depending on your allegiance, his legendary stubbornness could cast him as a hero or heel. But there was never any doubt that he played the game hard and that he played it a very high level for many, many years while playing the most demanding of positions.
Here's a look at what people are writing in the wake of this news.
Bill Madden, New York Daily News: "According to baseball sources, Posada had offers from a few other teams this winter and a part of him, perhaps still savoring that .429 grand finale against the Tigers in the AL division series, wanted to keep playing. Knowing when to retire is often the hardest thing of all for players, and usually it's baseball that makes the decision for them, not the other way around. That wasn't the case with Posada, even if the Yankees didn't want him anymore."
Buster Olney, ESPN "Posada was the perfect person for this job because of his own stubbornness, a trait that fueled him through his remarkable ascent. He went from a second baseman drafted in the 24th round to a catcher who played in 125 postseason games and served an integral role in four championships. He provided the Yankees with the rarest of weapons at his position — a switch-hitter who had patience and power from both sides of the plate."
Wallace Matthews, ESPN NY: "It should be with relief, not sadness, that Yankees fans bid farewell to Jorge Posada. His decision spares them the heartbreak of having to see him in another uniform —could you imagine him in a Red Sox get-up or the ersatz pinstripes of the Mets? — and himself the frustration and embarrassment of attempting to play on after the game passed him by.
"Now, instead of talk-radio mouth-breathers tearing him up and fair-weather fans turning on him for having the nerve to play like what he is, a 40-year-old man with a million miles of hard road on his body, the conversation turns to more pleasant subjects. Such as, where does he land next? In a manager's office somewhere? In Cooperstown? In both?"
Daniel Rathman, Baseball Prospectus: "Posada is not one of the best catchers in baseball history. He is not in the class of Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, and Mickey Cochrane. But with a career triple slash of .273/.374/.474 at a position where offense is often secondary, Posada should rank among the top 15 or 20 backstops to ever play the game."
Tyler Kepner, New York Times: "Posada was 7 when Thurman Munson, the Yankees' captain, died in a plane crash in 1979. But early in his career, while lifting in the weight room at Fenway Park — of all places — Posada noticed a photograph of Munson with a comment about catching. "Look, I like hitting fourth and I like the good batting average," Munson had said. "But what I do every day behind the plate is a lot more important because it touches so many more people and so many more aspects of the game." Posada asked for a copy of the photograph and quotation, and he cherished it. For the rest of his career, it was taped to the inside of his home locker stall."