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The Yankees celebrate in their locker room after they clinch the American League East crown.
The Yankees had two pretty big milestone moments this season and no looked happier during them than Jorge Posada.
When Derek Jeter blasted David Price's pitch into the seats for his 3,000th hit, Posada was the first man out of the dugout to greet him at home plate. And when Mariano Rivera nailed down his 602nd save on Monday, Posada was the one who pushed him back to the mound for his well-deserved moment of recognition from the fans.
It was nice that Posada enjoyed those moments so much because he didn't have much else to smile about in the 2011 season. He lost his job as a catcher, eventually lost his job as a designated hitter and looks like a longshot to make the postseason roster in what is certainly his last year as a member of the only organization he's ever known.
In between, Posada complained about playing time, feuded with Joe Girardi and, in an embarrassing episode out of the character he's displayed through the rest of his career, refused to play when he was dropped in the lineup against the Red Sox. With all of that, it seemed impossible that the season could end with a happy ending, but there was a bit of Hollywood at work in the Bronx on Wednesday night.
With the bases loaded in the eighth inning and the score tied at two, Girardi called on his former backup to pinch hit for Jesus Montero, the man who is replacing him in the lineup, and Posada delivered a two-run single to right field. Rafael Soriano shut the door in the ninth and since the Red Sox had lost, because all the Red Sox do is lose, the Yankees were AL East champs once again.
Posada being Posada, the moment even included a moment of levity when Posada admitted after the game that he thought it was the bottom of the ninth inning. His lack of baseball instincts has always been shocking given how long and well he's played the game, so it was nice to see that he's going out the way he came in.
It was nice to see Posada get one more moment like that at Yankee Stadium. It wasn't on the same level as the ones enjoyed by the two men he's played with since the early 90's, but Posada was never on the same level as Jeter and Rivera.
He has always been more blue collar than them, which made it easier for the team to nudge him aside this season when he wasn't hitting all that much worse than Jeter in the early going. That's not an argument for letting him play his way out of it as Jeter did, just a point of reminder about how there's always a political angle at work with something as complicated as saying goodbye to legends.
It was very complicated with Posada, but now we have a memory to replace his childishness in Boston and the team's brusqueness toward him this year. We'll see it again when Posada gets his deserved day in the sun at Yankee Stadium down the road and the rest of it won't matter a whit.
That's the kind of happy ending we should all hope to have.