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Jeter, Posada, and Rivera Celebrate 16 Years Together
by Asher B. Chancey, BaseballEvolution.com
April 7, 2010
During the Yankees-Red Sox telecast on the MLB channel last night, Bob Costas said something I found to be unfathomable: apparently, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera are the first trio of teammates to play together for 16 seasons in baseball history.
That such a feat would be rare comes as no surprise. While writing my Philadelphia Phillies preview a few weeks ago, I delved into the all-time great 6-4-3 double play combinations to try to decide where the Phillies trio of Rollins-Utley-Howard fit in, and I was surprised to discover that these guys have played together as long as all but two or three other 6-4-3 combinations. Obviously, keeping core groups of guys together for more than four or five seasons just isnít that common.
But to be the only one? In fact, Costas took it further Ė apparently they are the only trio in the history of North American Team Sports to accomplish this feat.
Now, letís appreciate this accomplishment for what it is worth. This isnít just three players Ė this is the catcher, the closer, and the shortstop, three of the most fragile positions in the game. Most of the great shortstops of all time switched positions by the time they got to be Jeterís age, if they were even still in the league. Very few catchers play full-time for 16 years. And the list of major league pitchers who have been dominant closers for 15 years has two names on it.
Nevertheless, letís not call this something it isnít. Costa and his booth partner (I donít know who it was) took a fair amount of time to ruminate as to how extraordinary the feat was in this era of free agency and player movement. Iím not buying it. The only reason player movement breaks a team up is if the players involved have incentive, financial or otherwise, to go play for another team. Jeter, Rivera, and Posada are the toast of the biggest town in the country, playing for the most important franchise in American sports, with virtually limitless resources at their disposal. Even if some other team did offer one of these guys more money than the Yankees did, they wouldnít leave, and even if they wanted to leave the Yankees would make it worth their while to stay.
Posada, Jeter, and Rivera
celebrate something together.
I am tremendously in awe of this accomplishment, regardless of what I have said Ė and will continue to say Ė regarding the diminishing defensive talents of Posada and Jeter. It is a remarkable achievement by three remarkable players. At the same time, we should not lose sight of the fact that this accomplishment says as much about the ability of the New York Yankees to play the financial game of baseball according to a completely different set of rules than any other team in baseball.
After all, things being equal, Alex Rodriguez, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Randy Johnson would have beaten the Yankees trio to the punch by a couple of seasons.
Questions? Concerns? Comments? Asher lives in Philadelphia, PA, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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