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Catchers? We Don't Need No Stinking Catchers!
2008-04-16 05:29
by Emma Span
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

So remember when, last week, I wondered about Jorge Posada and the importance of game calling? “Kyle Farnsworth is probably going to do some Farnsworthing no matter how meticulously you've planned your pitch sequence,” I wrote, “and Mariano Rivera could probably strike batters out if he threw to a lump of clay.”

Well, apparently the Yankees took that as a challenge.

In all fairness, sudden catcher Chad Moeller has done a good job so far under difficult circumstances, with a higher-than-expected VOLC (Value Over Lump of Clay). The Yankees scraped some runs together, Andy Pettitte didn’t let the Rays scrape together quite as many, and in the end it was a 5-3 Yanks win.

“Pettitte did a solid job despite not having great stuff”: I feel like I’ve written variations on that sentence about 30 times over the last year or so. Which means it’s probably time for me to adjust my idea of what Andy Pettitte’s stuff actually IS these days, huh? Clearly he can still be plenty effective, but it’s not 1997 anymore (thank god), or even 2005. Anyway, Pettitte had a rough few innings to start the game – allowing seven hits in the first three frames, some blooped and some smashed – but he got through it with only two runs scored, then settled in for the long haul, eventually giving up three runs in seven innings on exactly 100 pitches.

As for the Yankee offense, it wasn’t exactly a banner night – they left the bases loaded three times – but it was enough. Hideki Matsui started the scoring with a solo shot in the second, and in the fourth Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez scored on a groundout and a wild pitch, respectively. (Rays pitcher Edwin Jackson, in his general demeanor on the mound, struck me as a bit of a Nuke LaLoosh “I want to announce my presence with authority!” type, but maybe I'm being unfair). The Yanks tacked on two more the next inning, when Jeter singled Damon home – one of his three hits on the night – and was then driven in by Abreu.

Mariano Rivera got the save with his usual panache, but with Joba Chamberlain still home with his father, Kyle Farnsworth pitched the 8th inning. And you might want to sit down for this: he set the Rays down 1-2-3. In a two-run game. Frankly, I’m paralyzed. Do I make a joke about the apocalypse and Revelations? Quote the old Ghostbusters “cats and dogs living together, mass hysteria!” line? Or should I reveal my suspicion that Farns has been replaced by a remarkably lifelike android/mutant/alien pod creature, which - even if it helps the team - probably ought to be stopped? I don’t know. I was not prepared for this contingency!

Finally, in other news, LaTroy Hawkins - on the advice of Jeter and Rivera - has apparently decided to give up #21. I think most Banter readers will agree that Hawkins did nothing wrong in trying to honor Roberto Clemente, and that booing him for his choice of uniform number was definitely uncalled for… but I have to admit that part of me is a little happy he's switching. Not the smart, logical part, mind you*. But I do find it oddly touching that fans are still so devoted to O’Neill, even if they choose to express it a dumb, counterproductive sort of way.

 

*All together now: "What smart, logical part?"

Comments (53)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-04-16 05:55:19
1.   Rob Middletown CT
Seriously? He gave up #21? Sigh.

Farnsworth didn't actually pitch very well, btw. He faced the weakest part of the Rays order. The first out came on a hanging slider (smack in the middle of the plate, popped up). The second was b/c Cano is a really good second baseman.

He still sucks.

2008-04-16 06:06:53
2.   Sliced Bread
Value Over Lump Of Clay. I like that a lot, E-Span, and it leads me to a better understanding of what Farnswacker is: he's the air pocket in the clay that causes kiln explosions.

If you were in my 7th grade shop class, you learned (and may have mischievously demonstrated) that air pockets in clay can make your handcrafted pot, or cup, or ashtray (heh. made one for my pop), etc. blow to pieces as it's baked in the kiln, causing collateral damage to every other project in the oven.

As far as I know, it's difficult to predict when, or at what temperature a clay air pocket will explode, which adds to the excitement.
Keep this in mind next time Clay Farnswacker gets the ball with the game in the balance.

2008-04-16 06:11:38
3.   williamnyy23
I know I am in the minority on this, but I don't care at all about the Hawkins/#21 saga. I don't care that he chose to wear it and I don't care that many fans decided to boo him for doing so.
2008-04-16 06:17:48
4.   Sliced Bread
Hat's off to Hawk, I say. Surrendering #21 gives the haters, and meatheads one less thing to cackle about. Who needs their ugly noise?
Hopefully, Hawk's new number won't make him a target for the chuckleheads.
2008-04-16 06:20:51
5.   williamnyy23
I also don't think a lot of fans have taken issue with #21 being used again. Instead, I think it's a case of who was using it. I have a feeling that if Joba or Hughes was wearing #21 no one would have had a problem.

Hawkins wasn't a popular signing anyway, and he isn't likely to be here beyond one year, so I can definitely see not wanting him to wear a number with such meaning to the fans.

2008-04-16 06:31:15
6.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
5 I had the exact same thought. Joba as 21 = no problem. Also, Hawk pitching great as 21 = no problem.

Hawk as 21 pitching like Hawk? Uhhh...not priceless.

2008-04-16 06:47:34
7.   williamnyy23
To be fair now, Hawkins should get a standing ovation the next time he appears. If he was booed simply for wearing #21, he should be cheered for giving the number up. From then on, he can be treated on the merits of his performance.
2008-04-16 06:47:40
8.   monkeypants
To touch on William's post: I don't really "care" about the whole #21 saga. either...at least not seriously. I will say, however, that having watched Yankees dynasties and non-dynasties since the 70s, I just don't "get" the fascination and veneration for Paul O'NeilL.

Don't get me wrong, he was a heckuva ball player, and in his prime he was potent and greatly undervalued (IMO)--I had many a long argument trying to demonstrate how even the declining O'Neill was a better overall RF than Ichiro!. I know he was the heart and soul, yada, yada...

But really, the reverence for the man by many Yanks' fans is a bit much. Whatever. Like I said, it doesn't really bother me all that much on the grand scheme of things. Rather, I think the whole affair is bit silly.

2008-04-16 06:52:22
9.   JL25and3
Emma, VOLC is brilliant. I think it's a damn useful concept.

"Do I make a joke about the apocalypse and Revelations?"
Me, I go for Yeats:
"Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned"

And, come to think of it, "the worst/Are full of passionate intensity" pretty well describes Farnsworth.

2008-04-16 06:53:05
10.   williamnyy23
8 I feel the same way...but know a lot of fans who really love the guy. I guess I don't feel that way because I reserve that irrational reverence for Don Mattingly. Perhaps the generation of fans younger than I am feel that way about O'Neill?
2008-04-16 06:55:34
11.   williamnyy23
Maybe we can blame this on the Yankees stuborness to print names on the back of their jerseys? Perhaps all those fans with O'Neill jerseys just didn't want them turned into Hawkins' jerseys?
2008-04-16 07:26:07
12.   monkeypants
10 Maybe--I was (and am) a huge Mattingly devotee. Mattingly was the best player on his team for several years (led the team in OPS five out of six years), and he was arguably the overall best player on the team for the period of career. He was a 'home grown' Yankee product, and he he had the extra tragic quality of just missing two dynasties. O'Neill was also a very good player (led the team in OPS 3 years in a row), but if you look at his tenure with the Yankees, Bernie Williams and then Derek Jeter were clearly better players overall. Admittedly, I am biased toward Mattingly, but IMO there is little comparison between two in terms of who warrants more veneration.

That said, I long ago made my peace with Mattingly's overall good-but-not-greatness. This in no way diminishes my own irrational sentiment toward his place in Yankee history. But if the team had never retired his number--if they were to reactivate it--it really would not bother me all that much. Then again, this probably says more about one of my other whipping boys: the Yankees' devaluation (IMO) of the honor of retired numbers.

2008-04-16 07:34:32
13.   williamnyy23
12 I have also made by peace with Mattingly not making the Hall of Fame, but absolutely think he deserves to have #23 retired. If being wildly admired by your fanbase isn't reason enough for retiring a number, I don't know what is.

I also don't agree with the premise that the Yankees have devalued the honor. You can make a case against Reggie, Guidry and Maris, but I think all others stand up to scrutiny.

2008-04-16 07:35:20
14.   dianagramr
2

Last year, "Mythbusters" did a show on baseball myths.

http://mythbustersresults.com/episode83

Perhaps they can do another set of baseball myths to determine if Farnsworth will explode when placed in a kiln.

(Oh, and for my money, VORP now stands 'Value over Rafael Palmeiro')

2008-04-16 07:35:51
15.   OldYanksFan
WeYankees: .262 .321 .419 .740
Opponents: .254 .320 .382 .701

I think we all know the Yankees will greatly improve their OPS. I think our pitching though, has done rather nicely. I believe as it warms up and players settle in, that both Phil and IPK will do better.

All things considered, I don't think any of us expect the Yankees to play much better then .500 ball in April.

I do believe Jason will have an .850 OPS or better...
I wonder if Jeter will ever have an extra basehit again...
JD actually hit a ball hard last night. I still think he's done (.750 OPS max)...
Imagine how good Cano would be with a lobotomy....

I still wonder if signing Barry for $5m + incentives would be smart. I don't think at this point he would make a lot of noise, but be greatful to play his last year at Yankee Stadium. It will be a tad crowded, but we may be able to trade JD (if we pay $8m of his salary, we would have traded JD for Bonds) and between JD, Mats and Giambi, we will have some time lost due to injuries).
It's a bit nutty I know, but having Bonds hit behind ARod would be sweet. He would be quite the DH/PH.

I would bring up Gardner, as I think with Ensberg on the roster, Shelly stays in AAA.

Has AG 'Pipped' Betemin?
Is having both Ensberg and Shelly redundant?

Sorry... I'm bored.

2008-04-16 07:55:28
16.   monkeypants
13 We'll have to agree to disagree. I see the retired number as an honor bestowed upon a player by the team--for any variety of reasons--but NOT an honor merited by wild popularity with the fans. There have been other examples of players who were greatly popular and admired by the fans, including some who stuck with the team for several years, but who were not "great" (good but not great) and surely do not deserve to have their numbers retired. I would include Roy White in that group, and there is no dishonor in that group.

As for who deserved to be retired, that is obviously subjective, and my standards would be much higher. Just going backwards chronologically;

Guidry: no
Mattingly: probably yes, but see my post above. Actually, if Guidry is a no, is Mattingly also a no?
Jackson: no
Martin: no. He didn't play his whole career with NY, wasn't that good of a player, and mainly got his number retired for being fired a lot and dying tragically.
Rizzuto: yes, though the arguments are similar to his HOF candidacy
Marris: no (retired number for one or two seasons and a single season record?)
Howard: probably yes. I don't know much about Howard, who is the third or fourth best C in team history, but the first African-American, so that counts for something.
Munson: yes. This is contentious and emotional. I do think that his number retiring had much to do with his tragic death, not just his playing career (which was also in the very good but not necessarily great category).

So really, what you see since 1979 are a rash of good-but-not great players and those whose numbers seem to have been retired more for the circumstances of their death than anything else. Now, there is nothing wrong with that per se (indeed, Gehrig's illness obviously influenced greatly the decision to retire his number). But the last eight or so retired numbers have set the bar pretty low.

Then again, maybe I'm just a stingy old bastard.

2008-04-16 08:02:04
17.   monkeypants
15 I'm bored too, as you can tell.

I won't comment on the Bonds gig, because it's not going to happen. Getting to some of your last questions: "I would bring up Gardner, as I think with Ensberg on the roster, Shelly stays in AAA. Has AG 'Pipped' Betemin? Is having both Ensberg and Shelly redundant?"

Much of this depends on Giambi. You predict "Jason will have an .850 OPS or better..." If he does, then he plays most of the year at 1B, which forces Matsui to DH, which leaves little room for Ensberg and Duncan and Betemit to get ABs.

But if Giambi is cooked or gets hurt, that will force ensberg/Betemit/Duncan into 1B platoon situation.

If AG pipps Betemit, then Ensberg (who can play 3B) will stay and Duncan will go. I like AG's glove and base running, but I really like Betemit's LH bat and roster flexibility. I also like Duncan's ability to play corner OF in a pinch. So in my ideal world, the team carries one fewer pitcher, or AG retreats to the minors.

On the other hand, if they keep Betemit (3B/SS/1B) and AG (SS/2B/PR), does that mean AG will pipp Ensberg?

2008-04-16 08:20:44
18.   joejoejoe
I don't care if Hawkins wears #3. All of the things in the world to get upset about and it's the jersey number choice of a stranger showing the patented disrespect? Bah.
2008-04-16 08:23:05
19.   horace-clarke-era
On the 21 ... I fear I dissent (again?) from william and others ... I agree entirely with Pete Abe on this. A probably small minority of booing jerks have been permitted to have their way here ... by a player preferring not to become an 'issue' for the team (and in so doing dropping a tribute to Clemente).

I think it is wrong to treat this as trivial or boring. 'Power to the people' is fine, within limits, but that kind of sense of entitlement is disturbing. Me, I'll blame O'Neill until I hear if he actually stood up, spoke up, intervened. He might not have been able to stop it cold, but he sure should have tried.

Sliced, we can say hats off to Hawkins, and I agree with you, but he should NOT have had to do it.

2008-04-16 08:40:27
20.   williamnyy23
16 I think playing ability clearly factors into it, but I'd much rather retire the number of a very good player who was beloved than a great player who was disliked (if such a player exists). I just don't see how you can divorce the person from the player in bestowing the "honor" of having a number retired. In my opinion, if Mattingly doesn't deserve the "honor", then the distinction is irrelevant any way.

I don't think Roy White comes even close to being beloved, at least not on the level of Don Mattingly. Guidry also doesn't reach that level, so I don't their cases are tied together. Furthermore, I think Mattingly was a better player than Guidry, so that's a distinction. Having said that, I think Guidry does deserve his honor.

I agree that Jackson, Martin and Maris probably don't deserve to have their numbers retired. I don't think Howard is debatable, however. Not only was he a very good player, but he was the first black Yankee and first black AL coach. He spent a huge chunk of time in the Yankke organization and by all accounts was a man of great integrity. It seems like "honor" and Ellie go hand-in-hand.

2008-04-16 08:48:59
21.   williamnyy23
19 Why is Hawkins entitled to honor Clemente, but fans can't honor by O'Neill by expressing their displeasure with Hawkins wearing the number? Also, if Clemente is so important to Hawkins, why hadn't he worn the number before?

Also, why should O'Neill be to blame? He did speak on the matter and said he was a little disappointed that the number was given out. You are holding his honesty against him? I respect him for saying how he truly felt instead of giving the kind of contrived answer for which athletes are so often criticized.

Hawkins is being paid millions of dollars to pitch for the Yankees. He doesn't have an inherent right to any number he chooses. Would I have booed Hawkins? No, but I don't think doing so makes on a jerk

2008-04-16 08:49:59
22.   horace-clarke-era
16 I can't see how anyone could suggest Gehrig's death was any kind of significant factor in retiring his number. Yes, to it playing a role in his being grieved/loved, but jeez, look at the career!

I think we may be at risk of overvaluing good players on bad teams if we turn it into a fan-lovefest. Or even, come to think of it, good but not great players on memorable teams.

Me, I remain really upset that someone wanting to honour Clemente (who damn well deserves it) should be booed by we-have-the-power fans and WE don't note and condemn it. Jeter and Jorge may be 'right' in saying 'it ain't worth the trouble' from a pragmatic standpoint, but aren't there other standpoints here?

2008-04-16 08:51:11
23.   williamnyy23
19 Also...keep in mind that numbers were created for the fans, not for players. The reason players wear numbers is so they can be indentified by those watching games...not so they can offer tributes to their heroes. Fans have every right to be emotionally attached to a number as do players, especially when the players do not have a long-term commitment to the team.
2008-04-16 08:57:54
24.   williamnyy23
22 It was a factor though. The concept of retiring numbers wasn't prevalent back then. Had Gehrig not been forced into retirement by his illness, his number would not have been retired at that point. Even the Babe didn't have #3 retired until months before his death.

Again, the "honor Clemente" theme rings hollow when you consider Hawkins had not worn #21 before. If he realty wanted to honor Clemente, he had plenty of opportunities beforehand. In fact, if #32 was not retired for Ellie, he wouldn't have asked for #21 any way.

2008-04-16 09:00:23
25.   horace-clarke-era
Hawkins had to change his number. He made a selection based on Clemente. Is that so odd or hard to grasp? Players don't change numbers unless forced.

And the answer to your question ... let me ask this, ever, anywhere, any sport seen something like this? I haven't. Has a team ever 'empowered' some fans to make a player take a number off, forbid anyone from ever again wearing it? Think anyone will ever put on 21 again after this?

O'Neill? Sorry, I disagree. It is always possible to say, 'Guys, you aren't honoring me, you are embarrassing me. I'm not at that level.' I didn't know he said he was disappointed. That makes it worse. He threw gasoline on it, invited it. I've lost some respect for him if you are right, based on what you just said.

Your view is, if a decent ballplayer (foolishly) thinks his jersey should be retired forever he can and should campaign with his fan base. (Why stop at expressing 'disappointment'?) Hell, blog it! Release the hounds!

It is one thing to praise someone for being honest, and I do know what you mean, it is another to support what amounts to delusional, self-aggrandising behavior that appears to have become destructive. If O'Neill says he's disappointed what does it MEAN? Means he thinks no one should ever again wear it, and he's allowing that thought to get out there.

2008-04-16 09:11:12
26.   williamnyy23
25 If Yankee fans don't want Hawkins wearing #21, I have no problem with their voicing displeasure. You are imposing your view of O'Neill on others, including O'Neill himself. If some fans think O'Neill deserves for his number to be retired, I may disagree, but I wouldn't call them jerks for it. To suggest otherwise is very arrogant.

My view is that people should be free to honestly express their feelings: O'Neill to say he was disappointed; fans to boo; and Hawkins to wear or not wear the number.

2008-04-16 09:12:36
27.   monkeypants
22 You're kidding yourself if you don't think his impending death a great deal to do with his number being retired? he was the player in any sport in North America to have his number retired--not Ruth, whose career speaks for itself and who had already retired by Lou Gehrig day. There is no way the precise circumstances of the end of Gehrig's playing days did not strongly factor into the decision to retire his number.

That all being said, your objection actually supports my main point: the quality of the careers of retired number wearers has declined since the "big guys" (Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, etc.) were so honored.

2008-04-16 09:14:55
28.   monkeypants
26 "My view is that people should be free to honestly express their feelings..."

Ah, you're starting to wobble here! People should--and indeed ARE--free to express their feelings honestly, just like I may tell my wife she looks a little fat in her new dress. That does not make it right or appropriate to do so in all contexts.

Yankees fans exercised their rights and booed Hawkins; I still think that they were wrong to do so; and (as I first posted) on the grand scheme I don't care all that much.

2008-04-16 09:15:39
29.   Rob Middletown CT
I'm a big Paul O'Neill fan. I don't get the #21 absurdity. I'm not sure 21 should be retired (I've seen good arguments against). I have no problem with Hawkins wearing it. I think people "honoring" Paulie by booing Hawkins are misguided. I do wish Paulie had stepped up and disowned such "honoring."
2008-04-16 09:21:05
30.   JL25and3
I don't see how booing Hawkins is in any way honoring Paul O'Neill. As for O'Neill expressing his disappointment, I suppose one can respect his honesty. On the other hand, I lose respect for him because he really does feel that way. I think it's petty and rather arrogant.
2008-04-16 09:22:30
31.   williamnyy23
28 Of course, context governs free speech. You shouldn't go out of your way to hurt peoples feelings, yell fire in a crowded theater and use profane words in public, etc.. I am sorry, but I don't think booing a baseball player because you don't want him to wear a number transcends those bounds. Hawkins is not being deprived of anything significant, especially when you consider he hadn't worn #21 before anyway. He is still making millions and getting the chance to pitch in the majors. I don't think he can be called a victim here. This isn't telling him he looks fat in his new dress.
2008-04-16 09:25:14
32.   murphy
i am still pissed at paul o'neill for wearing dan pasqua's number. he was my fave.

i must admit i am happy that no one at the stadium will think i am wearing a hawkins jersey for the rest of the year.

2008-04-16 09:25:38
33.   williamnyy23
30 Wanting to be honored by an organization you spent 9 years with is petty and arrogant? I think that's genuine and human. It tells me he loved being a Yankee and was touched by the idea that they and the fans held in greet esteem. I not only don't have a problem with that, I am glad he feels that way. It sure beats the ballplayer who is just passing through picking up checks, without a care for the organization or its history.
2008-04-16 09:36:04
34.   JL25and3
33 Disappointment that someone else is wearing his number? Petty, because that's what happens with numbers. Disappointment that his number isn't retired? Arrogant to expect that it should be.
2008-04-16 09:37:34
35.   JL25and3
33 Oh, and saying that while another player is being booed for having the gall to wear #21 - rather than sticking up for the player - greatly magnifies the pettiness and arrogance. As I said, I've lost a lot of respect for O'Neill in the process.
2008-04-16 10:26:43
36.   monkeypants
20 Fair enough.

Slightly changing the subject, something your wrote interests me:

"Furthermore, I think Mattingly was a better player than Guidry, so that's a distinction. Having said that, I think Guidry does deserve his honor."

I wonder, was Mattingly a better player than Guidry. My heart and instinct say yes, but the more I think about it, the less I am sure. It's of course tough to compare pitchers and position players. I had always thought that Guidry compared favorably to other borderline HOF pitchers (whatever that is worth), and as time goes on I do not see the arguments in favor of him weakening significantly. But as time goes on I feel the case for Mattingly in the HOF gets weaker and weaker.

What d'yall think? Who was the better player?

2008-04-16 10:38:50
37.   monkeypants
31 "...You shouldn't go out of your way to hurt peoples feelings...but I don't think booing a baseball player because you don't want him to wear a number transcends those bounds...I don't think he can be called a victim here."

I think that he is a "victim" insofar as there is any victim in this little saga, but I do agree with you that the damages he suffered were miniscule and his victimhood rather insignificant.

That said, booing Hawkins was clearly meant to hurt his feelings intentionally, or perhaps more accurately, to shame him publicly. And it worked, he was shamed enough to acquiesce. My argument is that the reason to boo him (because you don't like the number he chose) is petty and insignificant, the booing/shame tactic a disproportionate (though legal, of course) response to a player's actions. Boo the guy for blowing a save, but for wearing the wrong number? Hmmmm.

2008-04-16 11:20:37
38.   williamnyy23
37 I don't think booing Hawkins was meant to hurt his feelings. It was meant to say, "hey, switch to a new number!"

I also don't think Hawkins was "shamed". Instead, he realized that it wasn't worth it for him to wear the number if people were going to be so upset about it and boo him as a result.

Personally, I think booing a player for failing is petty. Why should someone trying their best be booed because they fail? That's almost like adding insult to injury.

While I also don't think Hawkins should have been booed, how else would the fans express their displeasure? The way I look at it, Hawkins was being booed for the person/player he was, but for a decision he made. In this case, booing was the means by which the fans were expressing their feelings to Hawkins. Now, I am sure he'll get a standing ovation on his first appearance. This time, they wont be cheering for him, but again lauding his decision.

2008-04-16 11:21:43
39.   williamnyy23
38 should read: ..."Hawkins wasn't being booed for the person/player he was"
2008-04-16 11:32:52
40.   JL25and3
38 I'm with you on booing. I don't boo a player for simply performing poorly. I will very occasionally boo a player if I think he's an obnoxious asshole, especially if he's an obnoxious asshole who's also performing poorly.

I did make it a point to boo Gary Sheffield from time to time.

2008-04-16 11:36:47
41.   monkeypants
3 I meant that he was "shamed" in the sense of shame culture (v. guilt culture), which is very much the culture of professional sport. This is why athletes speak so much about honor and insult; this is why they seek the biggest contract in a given year--not merely for rational financial security but also because it is a totem.

This is not to say that fans booing is not a form of expressing opinion, indeed it is: we don't like the number you chose, or we are upset that you dropped that ball. But the medium of the communication is about shame and honor. It is no different from Roman emperors at the arena receiving ovations or jeers. While the people jeering have little rational effect on the emperor, they do have the ability to shame him by publicly insulting him (especially in a ritualized form).

How else could fans respond? i don't know--the internet, a letter-writing campaign, and so on. They could appeal to guilt (indeed, that is what was going on in the media when various individuals talked about how 'wrong' it was to use the number). These methods failed, so the fans turned to the tactics that work in the shame culture of sport. Fair enough.

2008-04-16 11:44:43
42.   williamnyy23
40 The only time I'll boo is if it looks like a player isn't trying (i.e., jogging to 1B on a close play or going into a HR trot on a ball off the wall).

41 To be honest, ironically, I don't think this issue envoked enough passion to start a letter writing campaign. Booing was the method choosen because it was easy and convenient.

The fact of the matter is that sports league thrive when they are able to create passion among their fan base. Think about how popular baseball in NY must be for fans to boo a player because they revere the number he wore. In many ways, Hawkins is benefitting greatly from the passion. Without it, he might be wearing #21, but he wouldn't be earning $3.1mn.

2008-04-16 11:54:28
43.   51cq24
19 22 25 what is all this "empowered" in quotes talk? i think you are really overreacting. a few fans were admittedly belligerent. but let's keep in mind that hawkins was pitching poorly and the fans were just being creative in the way they chose to voice their frustration. it was rude and unnecessary, but so what? if hawkins is so interested in honoring clemente, then he should keep the number and perform. i guarantee no one would boo him if he became a valuable reliever. and the idea that o'neill had some kind of duty to step in and tell the fans to stop is absurd. perhaps he could have denounced that behavior, but he certainly didn't have to. again, if hawkins were sure of himself and his ability to perform well, he could have kept the number and stood up to a few rude fans just by pitching well. he's not a little kid.

i find this whole argument pointless. it's like when fans were booing arod. yeah, it's silly. but it's what happens. these are professional millionaire athletes, and they should be able to handle a few stupid fans.

2008-04-16 11:58:33
44.   51cq24
in other words, hawkins' number is not the fans' decision. some of us have this attitude like "look at what you've done! you've forced a player to abandon the number he wanted to wear to honor roberto clemente! you should be ashamed of yourselves!" give me a break. hawkins is a grownup. no one is forcing him to change his number. if anyone is "empowering" the fans, it's him.
2008-04-16 12:14:02
45.   JL25and3
43 It's not that O'Neill had a duty to stick up for Hawkins. He was asked a direct question at which point he could have been supportive if he'd wanted to. That he didn't want to - that he even implicitly endorsed the idea that his number should be more highly honored - does not, in my view, speak all that highly of him.

It's very similar to Jeter's attitude towards Rodriguez a couple of years ago. It's not that Rodriguez needed Jeter to hold his hand, but the captain could have made a point of sticking up for his teammate. That might or might not have helped the situation, but it would have made me think more highly of Jeter than what he did do.

2008-04-16 12:14:59
46.   JL25and3
42 To be fair to myself, my booing of Sheffield wasn't based just on his being a jerk, but on his setting a new standard of "dogging it." Yeah, it was a long time ago, but it was also pretty spectacular.
2008-04-16 12:15:04
47.   Deadhorse
Might as well join the discussion since you bantering fools won't let me rest before tonight's tilt with the Red Sox. I get flogged something fierce when Boston comes to town, you know: Varitek this, Schilling that, how many ways can you skin the Yankee bullpen? etcetera, etcetera.
Anyhoo, I recently made the mistake of wearing #21 at Aqueduct Raceway, and damn near got booed out of the joint.
My intent was to honor Secretariat who's record was 21 starts, 16 wins, 3 places and 1 show, see?
Long-story short, I lose the race, and them numbnutses start hissing "Sec-re-tar-iat!" clap, clap, clap-clap-clap.
Last time I wear those digits again.
No respect, and no rest for a deadhorse up in here. But I'm sure I'll be buried whole just like the best of 'em, one of these days.
2008-04-16 12:17:02
48.   Deadhorse
47 whose record, not who's... I hate fucking mistakes like that.
I'm nothing, if not impeccably accurate, or some shit like that.
2008-04-16 12:29:32
49.   OldYanksFan
16 I agree. I think having a number required is an honor on par with going to the HOF. And is both cases, the more questionable players make it in, the less of an honor it becomes.

Mattingly and Guidry were quasi-great, but not great enough for the HOF or number retirement. Munson, Murcer and ONeil were very, very good... but again, not for these high honors.

In school, you had to have a '90 average' or better for an A. If a teacher lets '88 average' kids get an A, it takes away from the honor of getting an A.

We can love and cherish Paulie, Bobby, Donnie and others WITHOUT retiring their numbers.

I'm VERY bummed that Reggie, who is an OAKLAND A, has a retired Yankee number. Billy Martin? Are you kidding? Murcer was much better.

In terms of Paulie's #21.... it would have been nice if Paulue talked with the Yankees and the Yankees made the decision. If the number is indeed available, then players should not be booed.

As far a Ellie: "Not only was he a very good player, but he was the first black Yankee and first black AL coach."
So we retire the numbers of the 'very good'?
How about Wang, as the 'first very good Taiwanese'?
How about Matsui, as the 'first very good Chinese'?
How about Bloomberg, as the 'first very good Jewish DH'?
First Puertorican?
How many nationalities/races should we talk about here? Or are Blacks special?

This is not about color or nationality.
This is about GREAT YANKEES.

2008-04-16 12:36:15
50.   monkeypants
49 welcome back! See 17 .
Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-04-16 13:13:58
51.   Rob Middletown CT
49 Matsui is Japanese.
2008-04-16 13:35:41
52.   JL25and3
51 Details, details.
2008-04-16 14:08:30
53.   horace-clarke-era
Go away for a few hours and see what happens?

Basically JL especially in 34 and 35 and 45 is expressing my views concisely and just about perfectly. Word, three times.

I think Monkey is right in 37 and I think it is glib to say Hawkins could have ignored it - Jeter and Posada weighed in here with the 'we'll never shut them up, let it go' approach.

43 44 ... and THAT is why empowered, with or without quotes applies. They DID force the change, they got two veterans to advise him to change (and a grownup will take that advice, right?) AND who is going to wear the number now? And I'll bet a shiny nickel that a percentage of the idiots voicing their Paulie love never saw him play. Three beers and O'Neill was ALWAYS your man!

48 deadhorse you have my compassion and respect!

Finally, I want MY number, retired. I played nine years for the Yankees (and NEVER anyone else. Well, 21 games for the Padres, but dammit). I once batted .285. I once stole 33 bases! I once hit six big taters. I led-off. I survived the CBS years. They (well someone) named an ERA after me! And here's the quote: "A 100% player. He wanted to play everyday." - Roy White.

My number? #20, what of it? So some overpaid catcher ...

Horace

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