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COLUMN: Believe it or not, the best of Buster is still to come

Albany Herald Sports Editor Danny Aller

Albany Herald Sports Editor Danny Aller

I have a feeling that in a matter of weeks, maybe days, the lore of Buster Posey will soon reach Chuck Norris status.

You know the status: that Norris — action hero, martial arts master and bearded immortal — is unquestionably the baddest dude alive.

Well, Mr. Norris ... meet Mr. Posey, a man whose tales of invincibility may soon rival yours.

You know Norris’ tales, made popular by our good friend The Internet:

-- When Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he had three missed calls from Chuck Norris.

-- Chuck Norris has counted to infinity. Twice.

-- Did you know that Chuck Norris once bowled a perfect game — with a marble?

-- Or that Chuck Norris won a staring contest with the sun?

-- Or how Chuck Norris once cried — just to see how it felt?

Is it just me, or can we soon start replacing the name “Chuck Norris” with “Buster Posey” with any of these jokes and not miss a beat?

Because in the sports world right now, Buster Posey is the baddest dude alive.

In case you fell asleep before midnight Sunday, the Leesburg native further brightened his aura of awesomeness when he caught the final strike — again — to deliver the San Francisco Giants their second World Series title in three years with a 4-3 win in 10 innings, and a clean sweep, against the Detroit Tigers.

And he’s only 25.

On Sunday night, it was Sergio Romo on the mound closing the game for San Francisco, while two years ago it was Brian Wilson.

The lone constant for the Giants? That’d be Posey, the only member of the team’s roster who was in the starting lineup Sunday and when San Francisco won the franchise’s first title in 2010 — Posey’s rookie year.

Is it a coincidence all this good fortune has come to the city by the Bay since Posey arrived three years ago? Fans of Barry Bonds, MLB’s Home Run King and the face of the Giants for years who could never deliver San Fran a title, might like to think so, but there’s little chance many believe that.

These championships, first and foremost, can be attributed to Posey, the never-cut-corners, do-everything-the-right-way, hard working and humble South Georgian who — with two teams filled with totally different guys — has now won two World Series in two tries.

After the Giants took a 3-0 lead Friday in the series, a group of us joked at The Herald that had Posey not gotten hurt last year around midseason and missed the rest of his sophomore campaign, we’d probably be calling the Giants “three-time World Series champions” right now.

Honestly, that no longer feels like a joke. The guy just doesn’t lose. At anything.

He was the Georgia Player of the Year in high school, national Player of the Year (among other awards) at Florida State and — despite not being called up until midseason in 2010 by the Giants — went on to win the National League’s Rookie of the Year honor in a little more than a half a season of work. He also won the NL batting title this year — becoming the first catcher to do so since 1942 — and he was also named the Comeback Player of the Year for the season he had following that horrific injury he suffered during a home-play collision in 2011. And in about a week, chances are he’ll be named the NL MVP.

Now he’s a two-time World Series champ who played a starring role every step of the way.

In both World Series runs, the Giants’ pitching was nearly perfect. Posey called every pitch.

In 2010, his steady bat delivered clutch hit after clutch hit en route to the title, while in 2012 Posey will be remembered for his grand slam in Game 5 of the NLDS against the Reds that punched San Francisco’s ticket to the next round (and capped an 0-2 series comeback); his tag in Game 2 of the World Series on Prince Fielder at home late in a 0-0 game; and his two-run homer Sunday night that put the Giants ahead, 3-2, in the sixth inning in Game 4.

And ask anyone in that Giants clubhouse during the past three years where they get their quiet confidence and killer instinct from, and their answers will unequivocally point not to a veteran, but their mild-mannered, baby-faced catcher.

The scariest thing of all for every team playing against Posey? He’s not even in his prime yet, but here he is — just three years removed from walking the halls at Florida State to already being called a future Hall of Famer.

He was the subject of several online polls Mondays, one of which asked readers, “Is Buster Posey a lock for Cooperstown?”

Results: 89 percent said “Yes.”

In another, the question was, “How many World Series titles will Buster Posey win?” At around 9 p.m. on Monday, the choice of “4 to 5” had 63 percent of the vote, while “6 or more” was second with 23 percent.

And while he may not be at Chuck Norris status yet, Posey’s fame is growing. He’s the only player in Major League Baseball with an iPhone ap named after him (it’s called “Buster Bash”; awesome game and one of Apple’s top sellers), and photos have popped up since the playoffs began of fans everywhere wearing T-shirts that read: “Posey for President.”

Back home in Southwest Georgia, Posey is simply a hero. Drive around anywhere Monday and you’d see homes and businesses flying Giants flags or posting signs of congratulations. Folks are proud. As they should be.

From a professional standpoint, I know I am proud now — and I’ll be proud years and years from now — to say I had the opportunity to cover a player so closely who I’m sure will go down as one of the greatest ever. He’s been great to us at The Herald as far as being available for interviews, no matter how busy life has become.

Posey’s just a class act. On and off the field, the way he goes about his business makes him a model for everything that’s great about sports, and he’s the ultimate role model for any kid — playing any sport — who wants to watch the best at what they do.

So, congratulations, Buster, on behalf of everyone back home who has rooted you on since Day 1 at Trojan Field in Lee County, to your college days at Dick Howser Stadium at Florida State, all the way to AT&T Park in San Francisco, and on behalf of all those countless fans you’ve picked up along the way.

There’s no way anyone from these parts could be prouder of you right now.

Unless, of course, you win a staring contest with the sun.