New York Yankees: Off-Field Issues and Questions Overshadow the Game
Every story this morning is about Jorge Posada taking himself out of the lineup to "clear my head" or resting his aching back or pouting over being dropped to ninth in the batting order.
It all depends on who you believe.
Who cares that the Red Sox handed the Yankees their fourth straight loss? CC Sabathia, supposedly the Yankees' most reliable starter, and certainly their most important, gave up six earned runs on seven hits over six and two-thirds innings.
That's not the topic of conversation.
In fact, if we didn't know any better, we might think there isn't even baseball being played in the Bronx right now. But rather, a new soap opera or a Bronx Zoo repeat.
When the off-field issues begin to overshadow the game, you have a problem.
During the game last night, ESPN couldn't care less about what was happening on the field.
All they could do was send Ken Rosenthal's bow tie scrambling around Yankee Stadium looking for anyone capable of shining a light on Posada. He interviewed GM Brian Cashman, studied Laura Posada's Twitter account and of course the required "unnamed source close to Posada."
In the end, Posada claimed he had back stiffness and needed to basically rest. Both Cashman and manager Joe Girardi said that Posada had not mentioned any issue with his back.
Whenever you're dealing with a superstar on the decline, it's like walking on eggshells. It's easy to imagine Posada was not happy to be batting ninth last night and simply wanted to send a message.
This is just a taste of what the Yankees will be dealing with when it comes time to move Derek Jeter.
If you think this is bad, just wait.
For many Yankees fans, it's difficult to understand why Girardi hasn't dropped Jeter down in the lineup yet. Certainly it should have been Jeter batting ninth last night, not Posada. After all, Posada has at least has six home runs, while Jeter has just five extra base hits.
Yet it was Posada. Why?
Because the Yankees know what so many fans fail to realize: When Jeter moves, it's going to be a media circus beyond comprehension.
Posada is gone after this season. If he decides he hates DH-ing so much, he could retire and it would probably do more good than harm. It would give the Yankees greater flexibility in their lineup. But Jeter is here for another three years.
Who should be batting ninth in the lineup?
If the "drop" comes now, the aftereffects will last for the duration of his contract. At least the Yankees won't have to deal with Posada after this season. Whereas Jeter...well, you get the point.
For as intense as the Posada discussions are today, you can multiply that by billions when it comes to Jeter.
But until Jeter starts hitting or Girardi finally puts him somewhere else in the lineup, the discussions about Jeter's future will continue.
It's safe to say that the Yankees have now created a two-headed monster of fading talent in pinstripes.
Posada and Jeter. Jeter and Posada. Let's call the whole thing off!
Then of course there are the questions of how the starting rotation will hold up for the rest of the season, whether or not the Yankees can find a starting pitcher on the trade market, how to handle Rafael Soriano and his ridiculous contract and a lineup relying far too heavily on the long ball and struggling with RISP.
The Yankees are a team of questions more so than any other team in baseball. They don't have the luxury of as simple a problem as a lack of money or injuries. They have egos bigger than the stadium they play in to contend with.
You just accept that the Yankees are in second place, just two games behind the Tampa Bay Rays, and move on.
As if there isn't a game being played.
Maybe it's because Yankees fans have simply come to expect that their team will be playing playoff baseball, that the ups and downs of a 162-game season are simply a formality.
And to a certain extend that's true.
But the Yankees are a team more in need of answers than wins.
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