First Pitch: The Yanks say thanks to Jorge

It didn't finish the way Jorge Posada wanted it to, but it ended the best way it could.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi first stripped away Posada's catching gear. Then they nearly took away his bat. After adding to the embarrassment by benching himself, Posada finally reminded everyone of perhaps his best quality -- his grit -- which provided a couple of feel-good moments.

He had the game-winning hit in the AL East-clinching win and swung a better bat than any Yankee during the playoffs.

Then Posada had the good sense to say goodbye.

Now, we are not among those who think players should retire to protect their legacies. If a guy wants to hang on, that is his prerogative. Willie Mays as a Met is always the given baseball example of a player who stayed too long, but does really anyone think of the Mets when they remember Mays? No one does.

No, the reason Posada was fortunate the Yankees didn't want him back is because he left before it got ugly again. He retired in a way that allowed him to have the final word. If he kept hanging around, it would have ended with him riding the pine more than he even did last year.

Girardi embarrassed Posada nearly a year ago by batting him ninth against the Red Sox on national TV. Posada did the wrong thing and pulled himself from the lineup. The Yankees could have cut him there and a lot of people would have thought they were correct.

Instead Posada did the right thing, apologized, kept his head down and, ultimately, was rewarded with a couple of more moments.

Today, he throws out the first pitch at the Yankees' home opener. After the bad blood of last year, the Yankees and their fans can say thank you.

UP NOW: My column on how, if all goes right for the Yankees today, Posada will throw the first pitch and Mariano Rivera will throw the last. Plus, Opening Day through the eyes of Derek Jeter and David Phelps. We have the schedule of today's events and Mark Simon's W2W4.

ON DECK: The blog should be roaring today as we will have full team coverage of day's events and games. Wallace Matthews, Johnette Howard, Mike Mazzeo, Matt Ehalt and I are all slated to be there. So please keep checking back. Thanks for reading.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is your best Jorge Posada memory?