It was the sunset of a storied 15 year career, the last being the most contentious. A five time all-star catcher and an integral component of 5 Yankees World Series Championships, he was relegated to DH and an occasional one at that. All season, he felt under-utilized and disrespected, obvious from his demeanor on the bench and comments in the locker room. He was morphing too quickly from a pinstriped icon with iron-clad associations with Yankee greats like Jeter, Pettitte and Rivera to a more of a relic, a washed up has-been who at 40 should know when to play his age.
With days to go in September, the Yankees – a nonsensical underdog to win the Division – found the American League East Championship right within their grasp during the second of a day-night doubleheader against the Tampa Bay Rays. Certainly not their end game, but winning the division was a chance to right a perceptual wrong, show archrival Boston “who’s their daddy” and remind themselves and the baseball world there ain’t nothing in The Bronx that can’t be done.
Bottom of the 8th, score tied at 2-2, bases loaded, two outs. Jorge Posada comes to the plate. Not Jesus Montero, the rookie in the lineup closer in age to Justin Bieber most were tapping as the backup catcher in this year’s post-season. Standing in the batters box, everyone knew statistically Posada would popup or strikeout, ending the inning. But there was something …well, something “right” about him being there in that clutch moment, like so many Yankees (including himself) before. A reflection and a representative of moments past. Every coach and player was half cocked over the railing, the schizophrenic crowd of skeptical New Yorkers with idyllic Bomber blood cheering like mad and holding its breadth at the same time.
Pitch-hitting for Montero, on the first swing Posada delivered a bases-loaded hit into right field, scoring two runs and securing the Yankee’s 17th division championship. 155 games behind that moment, it only took one for him to personally deliver the team a championship and a chance. And if the Yankees win the World Series for the 28th time this year, it’s in no small part because of Jorge Posada.
Not bad for a guy not expected to even be on the roster in a week.