The signature chant of "Hip Hip, Jorge!" may never reverberate through the upper reaches of Yankee Stadium again. OK, there may be Old Timer's Day appearances each summer where the affectionate call is dusted off. But last night may very well have been the last meaningful game that Jorge Posada ever plays in Yankee pinstripes.
After 17 seasons in the Bronx, seven AL pennants and five World Series titles, Posada's career as a Yankee may have ended on Thursday night when Tigers closer Jose Valverde struck out A-Rod in the bottom of the ninth.
Posada, who received a standing ovation during every plate appearance in Game 5, couldn't hide his emotions during the postgame press conference.
“It’s tough. I really have no words. I’m sorry,” Posada said when he was asked questions about his future. The catcher-turned-DH then teared up and walked away.
Of the three members of the Yankees' beloved "Core Four" still on the roster -- Andy Pettitte retired after last season -- Posada has had the most contentious twilight to his tenure. While both Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera reached career milestones this season, Posada found himself fighting just to remain the lineup. He lost the starting catching job to Russell Martin before the season even began and struggled mightily as he transitioned to a designated hitter role. Early in the season, Posada took himself out of the lineup after manager Joe Girardi dropped him to ninth in the batting order. Although he apologized the next day there was no disguising the difficulty that he and his employers were having with his inevitable decline. In August, Girardi began spreading around the DH at-bats and Posada played only sparingly.
Despite his plummeting production and playing time, the prideful Posada insisted that he still thinks he will play in 2012. Whether or not he plays with the Yankees remains to be seen. The presence of Jesus Montero, a young power-hitting catcher-DH, makes that seem very unlikely.
"He’s had a tremendous career, and I’m sure he’s going to continue to play, and I don’t know what’s going to happen," Girardi said of Posada in the locker room after the Tigers had clinched the ALDS. "The heart that he showed during this series, that's why Jorgie has been a great player."
"He’s like a brother to me," longtime teammate Derek Jeter added.
While the seemingly imminent exit of Posada is yet another signal that the "Core Four" era has given way to a Granderson-Cano iteration of the ballclub, the veteran and his fans can take solace in the fact that he played splendidly when thrust into duty in the ALDS. Posada started all five games as the DH and went 6 for 14 for a .429 average. The Yankees' failures in the climactic moments of the decisive game may have created a silence int the Bronx on Thursday night, but Posada had given those fans something to cheer about up until that point.