Baseball

A Salute to Buster Posey

I’ve been thinking about something for the past few days ever since Buster Posey announced his retirement from baseball: the single greatest commercial in the history of advertising. It was a local spot for product I don’t even remember, because it doesn’t matter. There’s a couple in a hospital delivery room, the soon to be mother is about to give birth, and the soon to be father is sitting with her; when all of the sudden Buster frickin Posey runs into the room in his full catchers uniform. Theres some dialogue pushing the product and then the father says the one line I’ll never forget, maybe the best line ever from any commercial ever, “Honey, you’re embarrassing me in front of Buster Posey”.

Because that is how important Buster Posey is to Giants fans, so important that it does not seem too implausible that a soon to be father would be as concerned about what Buster Posey thinks of him, as he is about what his very pregnant wife thinks.

Buster The Icon

I’m not here to talk about Buster Posey’s numbers. Anyone, from anywhere else, can open Baseball Reference and write that story (it’ll be a great story by the way because the guy absolutely raked ). Thats not what this is about. This is about a San Francisco Giants fan finally saying goodbye to the best part of his sports viewing life. 

The early 2010’s were an intoxicating time as a Giants fan; three World Series titles in five years after 50 plus years of torture is about the intoxication level of a Post Malone Saturday night. I was 15 in 2010, right in the sports fan sweet spot: old enough to appreciate it historically, and young enough to still be in love with the magic of it. Those years were formative for me not only  as a sports fan, but as a human being.

During the first championship run I was working on getting my drivers permit, and by the last one I was nursing a beer in a bar in my last year in college. So it should go without saying that I have a lot of other memories inextricably linked to those Giants teams; those games were the background noise to some of the best times of my life.Thats why saying goodbye to the last face from that original roster in such a bittersweet experience.

As a San Francisco Giants fan, I have been extremely lucky over the last two decades to witness the careers of a few icons: Barry Bonds seemed both organically and (allegedly) artificially engineered to play the game of baseball. Tim Lincecum was simultaneously the best and effortlessly cool athlete in the league for five years. Brian Wilson had a personality and charisma that would fill up three dugouts, and a fast ball that may have left scorch marks on a few catchers mitts. Hunter Pence was spiritually closer to a nineteenth century player than a twenty first century one. Matt Cain is Mr. Perfect Game, and Madison Bumgarner made the best case anyone ever has to get into the Hall of Fame based on one postseason run.

Every one off those players has a Marvel our DC Comics equivalent (and if this is where you want to insert the Bonds test-tube jokes, I understand). But if the Giants were the Avengers, only one of them was ever Captain America. Buster Posey was not the best looking baseball player anyone ever saw (Ken Griffey Jr.). He wasn’t the flashiest (Fernando Tatis Jr). Certainly not the most high profile (Babe Ruth). He did not do anything so spectacularly well that you thought “wow, I’ve never seen that before” (please see the above mentioned Mr. Bonds). All Buster Posey did was win baseball games, and that’s about as Captain America as it gets.

Posey The Legend

We don’t write poetry about ball players anymore, because with social media, 24/7 ESPN and MLB Network, and YouTube, players feel as human as we are. But maybe we should write one last poem for the last classical ballplayer. He didn’t come out to the plate with chains bouncing around his neck, he didn’t light the franchise on fire every time the team lost three games in a row, no one ever blasted pictures of him at Magic City across the internet, he wasn’t in Twitter beef all the time. All Buster Posey did was his job, every day, for twelve years, and he did it better than any other catcher in the world.

So to Giants fans he inhabits almost another plane of existence as a baseball player. He’d fit in just as well on the Big Red Machine, as he did on the 2010 Giants, or the 1920’s Yankees, or any other great team. Buster Posey is a classic, he is timeless, and as someone who has a lot of my youth wrapped around that timelessness, it’s not something I’m going to forget any time soon.

Some people in the last few years have wondered out loud whether the second half of Posey’s career is going to hurt his Cooperstown candidacy (some people are also idiots). So here is my final say on that: Buster Posey had the single most important quality any ballplayer can have, he collected hardware.

For the first six years of his career, he stacked up accolades like it was a fire sale at the MLB league office: 7x All Star, 3x World Series champion, NL MVP, NL Rookie of the year, 4x Silver Slugger, Golden Glove, NL Batting Champion, not to mention 2x Comeback Player of the Year, and he retires with a .302 batting average. In the next six he was still one of, if not the best player at his position in the entire league (yes Yadier Molina fans we see you, let it go). 

Thats why it’s going to be so odd to turn on the games this spring, and summer, and fall, and not see our Captain America out there again. I know Joey Bart is supposed to be the second coming of Johnny Bench, and Camilo Duval has a rocket launcher for an arm, and Late Night LaMonte Wade has the best nickname in sports right now. I know there will be other superheroes, and I hope my kids will grow up to watch them win their own World Series titles.

But you never get to repeat your youth, and by the time you realize that it’s almost always too late. Buster Posey was my youth, he was Giants fans Captain America, and he was and always will be a towering figure in our little corner of the sports universe. Time will tell what his legacy will ultimately be in the history of the game we love. To us though, to me, he will always stand tall with the best we ever watched in the City by the Bay. Thank you Buster for twelve of the best years of our lives. You’ll always be Giant to us.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Josh Limesand

    November 9, 2021 at 9:29 PM

    Great article, Nate! I have a lot of respect for Posey. I was at Joe Mauer’s jersey retirement game at Target Field, and Posey was on the jumbotron talking about how he looked up to Mauer. It was a great moment. I am not a Giants fan, but I can appreciate his impact on the game, and as my fantasy baseball catcher for multiple years! The dude deserves all the plaudits that come his way.

  2. Pingback: Matt Olson to the Yankees? It Makes Sense. - Championship Sports Media

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