Commentary

Enough! It's time for Jorge Posada to go

Humiliated but not humbled, the vet should take the high road -- unlike the Yankees

Updated: August 11, 2011, 10:25 AM ET
By Stephen A. Smith | ESPNNewYork.com

Imagine for a second you're Jorge Posada. You love the allure of the New York Yankees. The Pinstripes. The tradition. The billion-dollar franchise with 49 playoff appearances, 40 pennants and 27 World Series titles in its coffers.

Who could blame you? No other organization has ever been attached to your name.

But when that same organization begins humiliating you at the most inopportune and conspicuous of times, the responsibility to stand up and say "enough is enough" cannot be left up to others.

It's time for Posada to say goodbye, and say it himself. Even if he feels the need to tell the Yankees to kiss his backside on his way out the door.

Petulance is never advised, but there is no doubt some belligerence would be justified at this particular moment in time. That may not have been the case in May, when Posada pulled himself from a game versus the Boston Red Sox because he was upset about being demoted to ninth in the batting order. That was inappropriate behavior for anyone, much less a 15-year veteran. But now?

Before last weekend's series against the first-place Red Sox, manager Joe Girardi yanked Posada from the lineup. Girardi exiled the Yankees' designated hitter to the bench against any and all right-handed pitchers, basically telling his old teammate, "he was going to put the best lineup on the field," as Posada deadpanned to reporters.

There is no way to argue the substance of Girardi's decision. Posada, who turns 40 next week, had been batting just .205 with no home runs and just four RBIs in 26 games since July 1. But the same Posada responded from his benching in May with a six-week hot streak that resulted in a .326 batting average, three homers and 12 RBIs over a 32-game stretch.

Besides, if Mr. Blonde himself, A.J. Burnett, can pitch winless baseball (0-8, 7.18 ERA) in the month of August over a span of three years, yet still be allowed to show his face anywhere other than the Bronx Zoo, one would think a little more patience -- or class -- would be shown to someone of Posada's stature. Yet, that hasn't happened at all.

When asked about his role moving forward, Posada told reporters: "I'm on the bench. I'm not happy with it. I don't need to tell you again that I'm not happy with it. But I'm moving on."

He needs to.

Clearly, the Yankees don't want him around anymore. There is no handwriting on the proverbial walls anymore; there are neon signs. And this has been going on for far too long, anyway.

The acrimony was announced to the baseball world when general manager Brian Cashman hollered about not wanting to give Posada a fourth year on the $52 million deal he signed back in 2007. It was illuminated again last winter when Cashman told his once-reliable catcher to forget about fielding duties and concentrate on being a full-time DH.

Whatever blinders Posada had on should've been removed back in May, when he saw Girardi creating more at-bats for Andruw Jones as the DH against lefties. And if Posada can't see he's not wanted now, he doesn't need words of encouragement. He needs prayer!

"It's tough," Girardi told reporters. "Jorge and I, our relationship goes back a long, long ways, and he's done so many great things in this game and great things for the Yankees and been a part of so many championships and division winners … "

That alone should've mandated that Posada be treated differently.

But it didn't, maybe because George Steinbrenner is gone. Because Joe Torre is gone. Because Girardi, no matter how good a manager or a man he may be, still has Cashman, team president Randy Levine and the resident sitcom that is Hal and Hank Steinbrenner hovering over him. Their mission is to usher out the old and bring in the new.

Now it's up to Posada to remind them of how it should be done.

It's up to Posada to point out all the maneuvers that have been used against him and to elocute the classless way this organization has acted toward him at times.

It's up to Posada, the catcher with 270 career homers and a lifetime .273 batting average, to remind the Yankees that he wasn't just a spectator during those four World Series championships.

It's Posada who needs to talk about his love for the Pinstripes. How being a Yankee has meant so much to him, and how things just aren't what they used to be. But more importantly, how things need to be, if you don't want more players to react like Cliff Lee did last winter when he demonstrated his belief that there may actually be better places to play than in the Bronx.

Posada deserves credit for acknowledging, "I put myself in this situation."

Fair enough!

But what have the Yankees acknowledged? What do they deserve?

We knew once upon a time. Now we wonder.

Stephen A. Smith | email

ESPNNewYork.com columnist
Stephen A. Smith is a featured columnist for ESPNNewYork.com, a co-host on First Take" and a regular on "SportsCenter."

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