Postseason never gets old for Posada
There is something to be said for baseball's postseason schedule, with all of its days off, and Jorge Posada was the one to say it. The 39-year-old Yankees catcher said with a grin, "It helps out the old guys."
Posada can laugh about it a little because he still is standing, and squatting, after 114 postseason games. He knows the good and the bad earmarks of advanced baseball age and that at this time of year, the good outweigh the bad.
October isn't the time to dwell on the cyst that can develop behind a catcher's knee or the shoulder that barks or the loud whispers that the club is going to replace you one of these years. October is the time to rely on all the experience, to pass milestones and to know that one of your teammates describes you as "one of my idols."
That came from Francisco Cervelli, 24, a catcher who might take Posada's job before long but for now is taking his mentor's advice. "Every day," Cervelli said. "He's a special guy here. He's a veteran guy and he's always there to answer questions. I'm lucky.
"He's unbelievable. He plays hard. He's 39, but he plays like he's 30 years old. I think everything starts with his preparation before the season. He always is focused; he concentrates on what he wants."
It seems like forever since Posada was a kid second baseman breaking into Class A ball at Oneonta and leading the New York-Penn League by turning 42 double plays. Back then, he was only nine years older than Jorge Jr. is now - not yet having started gathering the hard wisdom a father gets when he sees his son undergo multiple surgeries for craniosynostosis, a skull condition.
Posada has accumulated wisdom on the field and in the clubhouse. He is the one to whom reporters go if they want an opinion on anything or anyone about the Yankees. The other day, he mentioned that Phil Hughes was "the MVP of the year" in 2009, that Lance Berkman is "a professional bat who's going to work the count" and that - in reference to closer Mariano Rivera - "there is not another Mariano and there is never going to be another Mariano."
The catcher can get a touch irascible if he is asked one too many questions about himself, but that's one of the privileges of seniority. His understudy finds him unfailingly patient and polite.
"You know, I think God has perfect things planned for everybody. I was an infielder, too, the same situation as him," Cervelli said. "I think he's the perfect person for me. He's got a lot of rings, he's been in a lot of playoffs. He's got no [nervous] blood in his body when the playoffs come."
What Posada does have is a permanent place in the Yankees' fabric. He caught David Wells' perfect game. The chant "hip hip Jorge!" will forever be part of the soundtrack of this era's Yankees. He has heard from Thurman Munson's widow that she started watching baseball again because she likes watching Posada, that he reminds her of her husband.
Posada passed Munson on the team's career hits list this season. On Saturday night, he drove in his 41st postseason run, moving past Mickey Mantle into ninth place in major-league history. Those aren't the markings of an old guy, they are achievements for the ages.
Name just about any postseason situation and he has experienced it.
"You know it helps, coming into a series," he said. "But once the games start, you can throw everything out of the window. Anything can happen."
On the days off between games, you get ready for anything. "When you're in this situation, you look at the moment, you look at the game and get ready for tomorrow," he said. "Same stuff, same routine."