Fall from Grace: Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada and the 2011 New York Yankees
The New York Yankees. The Evil Empire. The team you love to hate. I've always taken joy in seeing this megalomaniacal franchise fall short of the prized goal in baseball year after year, even though they have more money than Halliburton and grab players from other teams like they're picking spare change out of the couch cushions.
Watching them founder (almost) every playoffs gives faith to the old adage that money doesn't buy you everything. It gave hope to the scrappy underdogs who got by on grit and chemistry, and it was just plain fun to watch.
And just when I thought it couldn't get any better, watching the latest Yankee scandal unfold has put my schadenfreude into overdrive.
I can't describe the pure glee I get from seeing these overpaid and hubristic vets (by which I mean Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada) face a grim reality check—they're just not what they used to be, and they can't accept that fact. One might think that they deserve sympathy, but it's hard to feel sorry for someone who can afford a Manhattan apartment and is dating Minka Kelly.
First came the Jeter drama of the offseason, in which his pride refused to allow him to compromise and accept what he truly deserved to be paid. Listening to the talking heads discuss the issue, I kept hearing over and over again, they're paying him for what he's done for the franchise in the PAST.
Say what? If that's how it worked, shouldn't Jose Canseco still be collecting royalties from the A's? Well, at least then we wouldn't have to suffer his "Celebrity Boxing" forays and more glimpses of his mesh shirts.
But anyway, Jeter wouldn't budge (much) and Cashman and the Yankees brass had to placate Jeter, giving him a way above market value of $51 million over three years. And how does Jeter repay them? By batting .255 with a SLG of .309. Yikes. Hard to watch, yes, but also fun in a Yankee-hating sort of way. Well, at least he has Minka.
And then there's Posada. He's 39, been on the downswing for a while now, but now he's taking ineptitude to a new level. He's currently batting .179, and can't even see the Mendoza line from the depths of where he is. That is bad enough, until you take into consid
eration he's making over $13 million. Wow. That's what Zeus, er, Jose Batista is making this year. So Girardi finally woke up and decided to bat Posada ninth. And how did Posada respond? By taking himself out of the game, one of the worst acts of hubris and selfishness I've seen in sports. But again, watching from the sidelines, this is dramatic and incredibly engrossing. Especially for an Evil Empire hater.
At some point, the Yankees brass is going to have to realize loyalty can only take you so far. I understand their intentions, and they don't want to be cold and insensitive about it, but that's what baseball is. It's about cold, hard statistics. There's really no other way to measure it.
So please, Girardi and/or Cashman, accept the inevitable, and make some changes. In the meantime, though, I'm going to grab my popcorn and sit back and watch. With glee.
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