By Jason Klein
Originally Written For Ed Randall’s Talking Baseball – 9/13/11
Mariano Rivera is about to catch Trevor Hoffman. When he does, Jorge Posada is the right man to catch Rivera.
The immortal Rivera is just one save shy of 600, two away from joining Hoffman atop the all-time career saves list with 601, and three away from passing him with 602. After that, there will no doubt be more saves added to Rivera’s first-ballot Hall of Fame resume – the ageless closer currently has a 2.09 ERA, and at age 41, looks as good as he ever has.
Perhaps prospects like Jesus Montero or Austin Romine will backstop Rivera’s final career save, sometime in 2012 or beyond. That’s for another day. When Rivera collects his 602nd career save, probably sometime in the next week or so, it should be Posada receiving the record-breaking, and no doubt devastating, cutter.
There is no one more fitting to do the honors.
For 13 seasons, from 1998-2010, Posada was a mainstay behind the plate for the Yankees. Although the switch-hitting catcher was always revered more for his abilities at the plate, rather than behind it, he certainly held his own defensively over the years. With the acquisition of Russell Martin, and up-and-comers Montero and Romine on the way, Posada was relegated to DH in 2011, getting the occasional start at first base.
He was also embarrassed twice, on national TV. First he was dropped to 9th in the line up on May 14th, and then he lost his DH job on August 7th – both prior to games with the Red Sox.
Iroinically, when injuries claimed Martin and back up Francisco Cervelli, Posada was thrown behind the plate for the first time all season on September 10th. However, the Yankees were so disenchanted with the 40-year-old catching, they called up the 22-year-old Romine the next day to take over.
Posada has lost a step, and this will most likely be his final season in pinstripes, but he deserves the opportunity to be a part of history with his battery mate, Rivera.
On July 9th, Posada was the first one to congratulate his long-time teammate Derek Jeter at home plate following his 3,000th career hit. For 13 seasons, Posada was the first to toast his closer, dropping the ball in his mitt, save after legendary save. He’s certainly capable of catching one more inning – the ninth of course – during the record-breaking affair.
It’s the right thing to do for a franchise obsessed with history and magical storylines. There’s no question, the moment will belong to Rivera, but Posada should get to play a small part in the festivities.
“Enter Sandman” will fill the air as Rivera makes his iconic trot to the hill, in hot pursuit of history. The flashbulbs will be popping that night. It’s only fair that Posada’s glove is popping too.
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