There isn’t anything subtle about the Yankees/Red Sox rivalry in its current form. For the better part of the last decade, nearly every head-to-head matchup between the two financial pillars of Major League Baseball reaches a national television audience.
Under the watchful eye of a weary nation, combatants in the Red Sox and Yankees war on our senses have a heightened place in the collective baseball unconscious. Googling “Bernie Williams Hall of Fame” is great proves this in vibrant electronic print.
This week, two major contributors to the great rivalry step away from the game. Jorge Posada announced his retirement this week while JD Drew’s career looks like it just about over as well. Two prominent players who, despite standing in the eye of the storm for so long, end up somehow underrated.
@JonHeymanCBS Drew and Posada are neck and neck for the Overrated sweepstakes.
— John Russillo (@JohnnyFontane1) January 24, 2012
The above Twitter exchange between some yahoo and @JonnyFontane1 might seem like it undermines the entire introduction to this post but, in my mind, it only cements it. Both Posada and Drew put together excellent careers against the backdrop of high drama and media hype at a fever pitch for the better part of a decade. That ever-present media attention turned many fans against players like Posada and Drew. They became better known for their personalities (or complete lack thereof in Drew’s case) than for their on-field efforts.
The “general baseball populace” will always overlook players of Drew’s ilk. Hitters who play good defense and draw walks are never going to earn the accolades they likely deserve, even if they rank among the 15 or 20 best outfielders of the past decade and a half. The “injury prone” tag stuck early and never went away, even as Drew played (and played well) through injuries while other local folk heroes nursed wounds and played badly but kept their reputations intact.
Jorge Posada toiled away behind the plate while higher profile teammates received accolades and catching contemporaries posted stronger records. The successes of Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriquez and the late-career swoon and squabble that marred Posada’s final years in New York shouldn’t obscure the fine career one of the great offensive catchers of his (or any) era.
Emotionless on-base robots and the fourth best hitter on irritatingly great Yankees teams don’t exactly quicken the pulse of non-partisan fans. Many fans are likely glad to see each man go, if we’re being honest.
While Posada has Hall of Fame aspirations, this is likely the last most of us will hear from J.D. Drew. Which is okay. Everyone’s career ends at some point. Not everybody gets a teary-eyed group hug. Drew made a ridiculous amount of money in his baseball career so there is no weeping for his relative lack of fame. Posada, even if he doesn’t make the Hall, doesn’t have a lot to regret in his career, either.