Everybody loves Giants catcher Buster Posey
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SAN FRANCISCO - The statistics and fan votes for the All-Star Game tell more about the man than the man chooses to tell us. "I don't like talking about myself,'' Giants catcher Buster Posey said.
So others must talk about him -- his manager, his teammates, a Giants radio and television commentator, and an executive from a sports drink firm.
Posey, 26, has been compared to the Yankees' Derek Jeter: solid, competitive, reliable, mostly undemonstrative. He plays the game. And he wins championships, two in his first three seasons.
"He's respectful of the game,'' manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's so well-grounded. He hasn't changed a bit.''
Even after winning the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year award and being named the 2012 National League MVP. Even after signing a nine-year, $167-million contract in March.
"The success of our franchise depends on developing and retaining homegrown talent like Buster Posey,'' said Larry Baer, the president and chief executive of a franchise that of late has had a great deal of success. "Buster's work ethic, leadership and extraordinary talent represent all that's great about our game and what it means to be a San Francisco Giant.''
That the Giants have sold out AT&T Park for every game the past 2 1/2 seasons is in part because of Posey, whose image is painted on a section of the stadium and hangs on banners from lampposts around the city. His jersey is MLB's best seller.
In the modern sporting world, it starts with touchdowns or baskets or RBIs. It hardly ends there. Posey is seen in Bay Area commercials for Toyota, replacing retired Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young.
Posey can laugh at himself and make others laugh at him, such as in the "MLB 13: The Show" video-game promo in which a would-be interviewer points out that Posey grounded into a game-ending double play to lose the World Series to the Tigers. "It's a video game, you moron,'' Posey says in response.
Maybe his best work is in a scene from the Giants' commercial spoof on "Animal House'' in which Posey, with painted black eye, sits forlornly until Hunter Pence, taking the John Belushi role, shouts, "Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?''
Pence, the rightfielder, said the Giants take pride in the way Posey has been acknowledged by fans in the All-Star balloting. Posey received 6,474,088 votes but made the team as a reserve and not a starter only because the Cardinals' Yadier Molina got 6,883,258 votes -- the most among all NL players.
"He's been an incredible player at a really tough position,'' said Pence, who finished seventh among NL outfielders with 3,122,245 votes for the All-Star Game. "The way Buster has hit, the way he calls the game, working the game, is incredible. We're grateful for the fans. We're rooting for Buster. We know he's deserving.''
Posey simply offers appreciation. While not uncooperative -- "You need something?'' he asks a journalist -- his comments hardly are tabloid stuff, which is fortunate because Northern California doesn't have a tabloid.
"It's always nice to be recognized by the fans,'' Posey said politely before departing for the weight room.
BodyArmor SuperDrink chairman Mike Repole told Forbes magazine: "Plenty of athletes represent themselves well on and off the field, but I can't tell you one that represents himself better than Buster Posey. He is a role model to everybody.''
Or as Mike Krukow, the Giants' longtime commentator, points out: "The thing about Buster Posey is he gets it.''
Two years ago, in May 2011, Posey got it in a different way, breaking an ankle and tearing ligaments while trying to block the plate. He was lost for the season, the only one of the past three in which the Giants did not reach the World Series. Hardly a coincidence.
"He can pull a lot of weight,'' general manager Brian Sabean recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. "There's no doubt he's our franchise player.''