PDA

View Full Version : "Vulgar" Yankee fan pressure forces Hawkins to give up Paul O'Neill's uniform number



Unassisted
04-16-2008, 10:12 AM
Two thoughts came to mind reading this.

I wonder what Paul O'Neill thinks about those fans.

I'm more convinced than ever that the annual Jackie Robinson tribute is a good thing.

http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/content/printer_friendly/nyy/y2008/m04/d16/c2533255.jsp


Hawkins gives up No. 21 for No. 22
04/16/2008 12:10 AM ETBy Bryan Hoch / MLB.com

ST. PETERSBURG -- Tired of receiving flak for wearing a number last used by Paul O'Neill, the Yankees' LaTroy Hawkins has decided to surrender his No. 21 before the club opens a two-game series against the Red Sox on Wednesday.

The right-hander declined comment after the Yankees' 5-3 victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field on Tuesday, but Yankees director of media relations Jason Zillo confirmed the change. Hawkins' decision was first reported by CBSSports.com.

Hawkins wore No. 22 with the Yankees during Spring Training, but switched to No. 21 when infielder Morgan Ensberg decided he no longer wanted to wear it. Ensberg was randomly assigned the number upon reporting to camp as a non-roster invitee and later revealed that he received numerous vulgar comments from Yankees fans during the Grapefruit League campaign.

Hawkins eagerly accepted No. 21 as a tribute to Hall of Famer Roberto Clemente but quickly learned that a pinstriped No. 21 has other meanings for Yankees fans. Unaware he was donning a number that had not been worn since O'Neill retired following the 2001 World Series, Hawkins was booed when introduced on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. Fans chanted "Paul O'Neill" during one of his appearances in the Bronx.

According to CBSSports.com, Hawkins made the decision after discussions with Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and other Yankees veterans, who told Hawkins that the number is not worth the headache it's causing.

"I figure if it's important enough for Jeter and Mariano and some other veterans to ask me about it, it's not worth it to keep wearing the number," Hawkins told the Web site.

Hawkins will wear No. 22, last worn by Roger Clemens, when the Yankees take the field on Wednesday. He had said that he would be interested in wearing No. 42 on Tuesday as a tribute to Jackie Robinson, but declined to change his number for the game against the Rays. Hawkins, who is African-American, wore No. 42 last year for the Rockies, the lone player wearing that number for Colorado.

George Anderson
04-16-2008, 10:33 AM
O'Neill was a very good player but I have never totally understood why New Yorkers have so much love for him. IMO Bernie Williams was just as good as O'Neill but I just don't see New Yorkers getting up in arms when his #51 is worn one day.

medford
04-16-2008, 11:21 AM
I think Paul O'Neill represents the transition from the mid 80s Yankees that could never put it together to the mid 90s yankees that seemingly had it all. Paul was the blue-collar type guy that brought a winning attitude to the yankees that all the high priced veterans during the mid 80s could not. While Paul was certainly not the best player on those Yankee squads, I guess many Yankee fans hold him on a higher plane than his actual production would make you think otherwise.

While Bernie Williams, Jeter, Pasoda, Petite, etc... were more important pieces to the mid 90s Yankee championship puzzle, they were all still fairly young when the Yankees began their run. O'Neill was the older, more recognizable vet with the tough nose approach.

Then there is the fact that O'Neill is the anti-ARod kind of guy. O'Neill is the type of guy new yorkers love to love, while ARod is the kind of guy the love to boo, unless he's putting up uber MVP type numbers. While their affection for Paul seems a little strange regarding his numbers, I guess for Paul it would be the ultimate compliment that a group of fans could give a player.

Wheelhouse
04-16-2008, 11:41 AM
O'Neill was a very good player but I have never totally understood why New Yorkers have so much love for him. IMO Bernie Williams was just as good as O'Neill but I just don't see New Yorkers getting up in arms when his #51 is worn one day.

Paul O'Neill is the poster boy for the "intangibles" argument for ballplayers--the Yankees simply do not have the dynasty without him. And it's not me who says this, but George Steinbrenner, the man who spent money on it.

westofyou
04-16-2008, 11:50 AM
Paul O'Neil wasn't as good a ballplayer as Tommy Henrich was and in all things Yankee history he'll be lumped with the Rolfes, Gordons and Collins as a part of a great team, but not the man that stirred the pot.

The adulation is humorous when viewing it through the spectrum of a Lou Pinella's battles with Paul's approach.

Chip R
04-16-2008, 11:53 AM
I think he's so popular because he always wore his heart on his sleeve. He would strike out and go back to the dugout and wail on the water cooler or some other inanimate object. Bernie was more stoic but I'm sure they don't love him any less. I think they love O'Neill in the same way as they loved Lou Piniella. Plus O'Neill performed in the clutch on the big stage.

Red in Chicago
04-16-2008, 11:55 AM
Two thoughts came to mind reading this.

I wonder what Paul O'Neill thinks about those fans.

I'm more convinced than ever that the annual Jackie Robinson tribute is a good thing.
http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/content/printer_friendly/nyy/y2008/m04/d16/c2533255.jsp

i guess i don't understand that statement...they were giving morgan ensberg a hard time as well, so i don't see it as a racial issue, but maybe i'm missing something?

George Anderson
04-16-2008, 11:55 AM
Paul O'Neill is the poster boy for the "intangibles" argument for ballplayers--the Yankees simply do not have the dynasty without him. And it's not me who says this, but George Steinbrenner, the man who spent money on it.

When O'Neill was in Cincy he did get a ring but I don't see his "intangibles" as being part of the success the 90' team had. Maybe these "intangibles" surfaced in New York but I really didn't see them while with the Reds.

Unassisted
04-16-2008, 12:08 PM
i guess i don't understand that statement...they were giving morgan ensberg a hard time as well, so i don't see it as a racial issue, but maybe i'm missing something?On first read, I didn't catch that Ensberg gave up the number for the same reason, so I was assuming the slurs were racist. I'll grant you that they may not have been.

Wheelhouse
04-16-2008, 12:26 PM
Paul O'Neil wasn't as good a ballplayer as Tommy Henrich was and in all things Yankee history he'll be lumped with the Rolfes, Gordons and Collins as a part of a great team, but not the man that stirred the pot.

The adulation is humorous when viewing it through the spectrum of a Lou Pinella's battles with Paul's approach.

This post is a perfect example of why your view of the game is so deeply misguided, and why you and I will never agree.

pedro
04-16-2008, 12:30 PM
This post is a perfect example of why your view of the game is so deeply misguided, and why you and I will never agree.

:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

westofyou
04-16-2008, 12:53 PM
This post is a perfect example of why your view of the game is so deeply misguided, and why you and I will never agree.

O'Neil would be proud to mentioned with those Yankee greats, of course he probably has a clue who they are.

KronoRed
04-16-2008, 12:55 PM
If the yanks think so much of Paul O'Neill why don't they retire the number?

gm
04-16-2008, 12:59 PM
If Yankee fans are allowed to make the decision on who's uniform number can or cannot be worn, the franchise will quickly run out of "acceptable" numbers and ML players will be wearing spring training numbers during the regular season

Jpup
04-16-2008, 01:32 PM
O'Neill was a very good player but I have never totally understood why New Yorkers have so much love for him. IMO Bernie Williams was just as good as O'Neill but I just don't see New Yorkers getting up in arms when his #51 is worn one day.

oh yes, they will. They may actually retire Bernie's number though.

MartyFan
04-16-2008, 01:34 PM
I think Paul Oneill was the Yankees "Tony Perez" A uniter of a lot of really talented players and a solid workhorse for the team.

I wish he would have done that for the Reds.

vaticanplum
04-16-2008, 01:37 PM
I think he's so popular because he always wore his heart on his sleeve. He would strike out and go back to the dugout and wail on the water cooler or some other inanimate object. Bernie was more stoic but I'm sure they don't love him any less. I think they love O'Neill in the same way as they loved Lou Piniella. Plus O'Neill performed in the clutch on the big stage.

I think that has a whole lot to do with it. He was extremely hard on himself. New Yorkers love nothing more than a masochistic ballplayer due to the natural inference that he wants to do his very best all the time. (That's most fans, really -- look at the stuff Reds fans lob at any ballplayer perceived as being lazy or underachieving.)

Bernie Williams is enormously beloved as well. I don't think many Yankee fans actually expect O'Neill's number to be retired, but I bet quite a few of them expect to see Bernie Williams's retired at some point. The records and all that. Not coincidentally, Williams has a better (if still tenuous) shot at the Hall of Fame.

Wheelhouse
04-16-2008, 03:07 PM
I think Paul Oneill was the Yankees "Tony Perez" A uniter of a lot of really talented players and a solid workhorse for the team.

I wish he would have done that for the Reds.

I wish he'd been as good for the Reds too. When he was with the Yanks though, aside from Rose, he was the best situational hitter I've ever seen.

Unassisted
04-16-2008, 03:17 PM
I wish he'd been as good for the Reds too. When he was with the Yanks though, aside from Rose, he was the best situational hitter I've ever seen.When he was with the Reds, he was the streakiest hitter I've ever seen. He went on torrid hitting and slugging streaks, followed by ice-cold hitless streaks, which made him look lost at the plate. It was the latter that made him easier to part with at the time, even though he was a native of Ohio.

Knowing now how personally O'Neill took those cold streaks, I've often wondered whether his managers and coaches at the time either failed to or didn't know they needed to keep him from taking failure so hard.

Edskin
04-16-2008, 04:01 PM
Let's just say it: Fans love white dudes who might be a bit short on physical gifts, but go all out all the time. We're talking about a guy that would basically slam his head into a wall every time he made an out. Fans love that. Put a guy like that on a consistent winner and he becomes a legend.

gm
04-16-2008, 04:24 PM
When he was with the Reds, he was the streakiest hitter I've ever seen. He went on torrid hitting and slugging streaks, followed by ice-cold hitless streaks, which made him look lost at the plate.

My lasting memory of O'Neill as a Red's hitter was his right hip flying open whenever he faced a breaking ball from a southpaw. My impression at the time was that he was at best a platoon outfielder with a plus arm

Something changed in Paul's approach when he got to NY, but I'm not a Yankee's fan so I have no idea what that was

pedro
04-16-2008, 04:28 PM
My lasting memory of O'Neill as a Red's hitter was his right hip flying open whenever he faced a breaking ball from a southpaw. My impression at the time was that he was at best a platoon outfielder with a plus arm

Something changed in Paul's approach when he got to NY, but I'm not a Yankee's fan so I have no idea what that was

How very true. We used to call him "Mr. Step Out"

BuckeyeRedleg
04-16-2008, 04:33 PM
Let's just say it: Fans love white dudes who might be a bit short on physical gifts, but go all out all the time. We're talking about a guy that would basically slam his head into a wall every time he made an out. Fans love that. Put a guy like that on a consistent winner and he becomes a legend.


Ed, I wouldn't put O'Neill in the "short on physical gifts" category.

The guy was an awesome athlete going back to his days on the gridiron at Brookhaven. He could punt it out of the stadium, had a rocket of an arm, and could steal a base (141 in career, twice over 20) in his time.

Unless "physical gifts" has been whittled down to simply sub 4.5 40 speed and the ability to touch the top of the backboard, I think O'Neill had the gifts part covered.

Big Klu
04-16-2008, 04:42 PM
My lasting memory of O'Neill as a Red's hitter was his right hip flying open whenever he faced a breaking ball from a southpaw. My impression at the time was that he was at best a platoon outfielder with a plus arm

Something changed in Paul's approach when he got to NY, but I'm not a Yankee's fan so I have no idea what that was

I also remember that O'Neill had big problems with LHP, and I agree with your assessment that he appeared to be a platoon-type OF with a RF arm. I liked Paul, but I supported the trade that sent him to New York for Roberto Kelly. I thought that Kelly could be the everyday-type OF that O'Neill apparently couldn't. It didn't work out, as O'Neill blossomed in NY, but I'm not convinced that he would ever have become that player in Cincinnati.

Edskin
04-16-2008, 05:00 PM
Ed, I wouldn't put O'Neill in the "short on physical gifts" category.

The guy was an awesome athlete going back to his days on the gridiron at Brookhaven. He could punt it out of the stadium, had a rocket of an arm, and could steal a base (141 in career, twice over 20) in his time.

Unless "physical gifts" has been whittled down to simply sub 4.5 40 speed and the ability to touch the top of the backboard, I think O'Neill had the gifts part covered.

That's actually kind of my point. A guy like O'Neill is actually a really gifted athlete, but there is a perception (based partly on race and partly on how he played) that he was all "grit." I don't want to turn this into a political/racial debate, but I think there is a STRONG link when it comes to fans and how a player is perceived, and yes, I believe race plays a role.

BuckeyeRedleg
04-16-2008, 05:03 PM
That's actually kind of my point. A guy like O'Neill is actually a really gifted athlete, but there is a perception (based partly on race and partly on how he played) that he was all "grit." I don't want to turn this into a political/racial debate, but I think there is a STRONG link when it comes to fans and how a player is perceived, and yes, I believe race plays a role.

Gotcha. Yes, I agree. The white athlete has been unfairly stereotyped as well.

Edskin
04-16-2008, 06:42 PM
Gotcha. Yes, I agree. The white athlete has been unfairly stereotyped as well.

Yep, all races fall into some sort of stereotype and it gets perpetuated ALL the time by fans, announcers, and even coaches and players themselves.

I would love to do a poll:

Find 100 knowledgeable baseball fans. Then ask them to name the 5 "toughest, grittiest, all-heart" players they've ever seen. I would be willing to wager a TON of money that the majority of the answers would be white players. Now, I understand there is a greater percentage of white players in history, but I do not think the poll would be proportionate.

What does all of this mean?

Nothing really. Just an observation :)

vaticanplum
04-16-2008, 10:44 PM
That's actually kind of my point. A guy like O'Neill is actually a really gifted athlete, but there is a perception (based partly on race and partly on how he played) that he was all "grit." I don't want to turn this into a political/racial debate, but I think there is a STRONG link when it comes to fans and how a player is perceived, and yes, I believe race plays a role.

I think you have a point in a broader sense, but I don't think that was the case with O'Neill. not by a long shot. His personality fit the timing. Had he been in New York in the 80s, he would have been considered a whiner.

New York isn't a particularly scrappy baseball town. They prefer power to grit generally speaking, both in reality and in perception. The NL is the gritty league, or at least likes to fancy itself that way.

George Anderson
04-16-2008, 10:56 PM
On the subject of O'Neil, while with the Reds he had the nickname of "Big". Any one know where he got the nickname? I heard rumors that Pinella gave him the nickname "Big ____" but only the first part of the name was suitable for young ears.

Big Klu
04-17-2008, 12:32 AM
On the subject of O'Neil, while with the Reds he had the nickname of "Big". Any one know where he got the nickname? I heard rumors that Pinella gave him the nickname "Big ____" but only the first part of the name was suitable for young ears.

I think Pete Rose used to call him "Jethro".

westofyou
04-22-2008, 01:33 PM
Another misguided mans take on the O'Neil situation... damn are we a sorry lot.

http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/


This is a personal message to my good friends, New York Yankees fans. I’ve always had a lot of respect for you folks, really. I don’t like the Yankees, naturally, but I like you. You provide the biggest sports stage in America today. Broadway of Baseball. All that. Yankees fans, to me, in general, tend to be fun and brutal and smart. Some of my best friends are Yankees fans, and I get a huge kick out of you. I like the whole cynical fan thing, Bronx cheers, I like the whole “DE-rek JE-ter” chant at the beginning of games. And I consider being in Yankee Stadium after Jeter hit the home run in the 2001 World Series one of the great sports moments of my life. And …

… you will now ask why I’m sucking up to you Yankees fans? It’s because I’m about to say this.

Seriously, have you people lost your freaking minds?

I cannot remember a more stupid controversy than this LaTroy Hawkins number thing. Really. Ever. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there is some angle to this thing that I just have not quite gotten my thick brain around.

As I understand it, LaTroy Hawkins decided to wear No. 21 to honor his hero Roberto Clemente. It seems a pretty noble thing. Hawkins, like many others, believes that Clemente’s number should be retired all over the league — he supposedly has a sticker pumping this site on his locker. I don’t necessarily agree that Clemente’s number should be universally retired, but I certainly understand the sentiment. Anyway, could anyone blame a man for wanting to honor an icon like Clemente?

Apparently the answer to this is: Yes.You Yankees fans — you smart, cynical, tough Yankees fans — started booing the hell out of LaTroy Hawkins. Teammates like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera encouraged him to change numbers. It is suspected that George Steinbrenner even got involved.

Why the ruckus? What’s the rumpus? What gives?

It is because …

I can’t even say this because it’s so unbelievably stupid …

Because …

No, it’s not possible. Really. Not possible. …

Because freaking Paul O’Neill wore Number 21.

Paul O’Neill. I’m sitting here look at those words and I cannot even believe this. Paul O’FreakingNeill. Now, look, I fully respect what Paul O’FreakingNeill did for the Yankees. Gave them nine mostly nice seasons, made four All-Star teams (one as a starter), led the league in hitting one year (and grounding into double plays twice), banged as many as 24 home runs (precisely the same number as Darryl Strawberry — Straw did it in 300 fewer at-bats though), played with guts and fire as best expressed by his throwing helmets after his strikeouts.

Look, I don’t want to make this sound like I have anything against O’Neill — I don’t. I liked him. Respected him. He was a very good player on some great teams, a fan favorite, a scrappy player who unlike many other scrappy players could actually hit. I appreciate that Yankees fans loved him. I do. He’s like a Bobby Bonilla with guts, or a Fred Lynn who couldn’t play center field or (I’m not just picking these names out of thin air; I’m looking at his comps on Baseball-Reference) or a Garrett Anderson or a Del Ennis (that’s a pretty good comp — scrappy, hit with some power, key player on Whiz Kids) or, um, Ruben Sierra? George Hendrick?

But, um, come on. You’re YANKEES FANS. This is the point. I mean, really, you’re booing a guy for wearing the uniform of a modern Del Ellis? I appreciate that Yankees fans tend to go overboard in their love for certain players — my email is filled every year with kindly “Vote Don Mattingly into the Hall of Fame” suggestions — and O’Neill is that sort of player. I do.

But, um, come on. Oh, I said that already. Do you seriously find yourself struggling to imagine anyone ever being good enough to wear PAUL O’FREAKINGNEILL’S NUMBER? I mean, you had Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Ford, Stengel, Reggie — throw Mattingly in there if you want — and you’re really booing and ripping a guy trying to honor Clemente because it offends your PAUL O’NEILL SENSIBILITIES?

I’m just in awe. I am. And then I read that Jeter and others may be trying to get Paul O’Neill’s number RETIRED? Has the world gone mad?Is there some sort of flu going around the Bronx? Will they retire Bernie Williams number since he was a better player? How about Tino’s number? You know, Brosius had the huge hit. What number did he wear? What the hell is going on over there?

Meanwhile, LaTroy Hawkins is wearing No. 22 now. I don’t know about that. You know Jorge Posada wore that number one year. And Homer Bush. Don’t forget Homer Bush.

George Anderson
04-22-2008, 01:57 PM
O'Neill's number retired?? :rolleyes:

Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio, O'Neill and Mantle just wouldn't look right in "Monument Park"

NJReds
04-22-2008, 02:07 PM
O'Neill was viewed as the heart and soul of the Yankee teams in the mid- to late-90s. He was firey and scrappy and a darn good ballplayer. But he doesn't deserve to have his number retired and I don't know many Yankees fans who think that he does.

pahster
04-22-2008, 02:27 PM
I will never forget Homer Bush.

Edskin
04-22-2008, 02:54 PM
IMO, having your number retired is MUCH different than anything concerning the HOF. The HOF is for the entire league, and therefore, statistics and hard data are much needed to determine who belongs and who doesn't.

But when it comes to retiring numbers, it's all about what the player MEANT to the team and fans.

PO represents something very strong for Yankees fans. He represents the rebirth of their dominance and they simply adored the way he played.

When A-Rod retires he will obviously have numbers that put PO's to shame-- both overall, and as a Yankee. However, many Yankee fans may still prefer to retire PO's number before they retire A-Rod's number-- and I really don't have a problem with that.

Do I think PO is even in the same class as other retired Yankee numbers in terms of what kind of ballplayer he was? No, of course not. And I don't think most Yankee fans would argue that either.

But you've just got to face the reality that he was as much of a "fan favorite" as any athlete on any team, EVER.

If the Yankees feel that PO's overall contribution to the organization (including what he meant to the fans) is worthy of retiring his number, then I don't really have a problem with it.

George Anderson
04-22-2008, 03:15 PM
IMO, having your number retired is MUCH different than anything concerning the HOF. The HOF is for the entire league, and therefore, statistics and hard data are much needed to determine who belongs and who doesn't.

But when it comes to retiring numbers, it's all about what the player MEANT to the team and fans.

PO represents something very strong for Yankees fans. He represents the rebirth of their dominance and they simply adored the way he played.

When A-Rod retires he will obviously have numbers that put PO's to shame-- both overall, and as a Yankee. However, many Yankee fans may still prefer to retire PO's number before they retire A-Rod's number-- and I really don't have a problem with that.

Do I think PO is even in the same class as other retired Yankee numbers in terms of what kind of ballplayer he was? No, of course not. And I don't think most Yankee fans would argue that either.

But you've just got to face the reality that he was as much of a "fan favorite" as any athlete on any team, EVER.

If the Yankees feel that PO's overall contribution to the organization (including what he meant to the fans) is worthy of retiring his number, then I don't really have a problem with it.


Not that I agree with you, but there have been instances worse than O'Neill having his number retired. TB retired Wade Boggs number, San Diego retired Steve Garveys number and Texas retired Nolan Ryans number. Those are all pretty ridiculous to me

Chip R
04-22-2008, 06:18 PM
Not that I agree with you, but there have been instances worse than O'Neill having his number retired. TB retired Wade Boggs number, San Diego retired Steve Garveys number and Texas retired Nolan Ryans number. Those are all pretty ridiculous to me


I'll give you Wade Boggs. However, he's a native and they don't have much history. Nolan Ryan may not have had his best years in a Rangers uniform but that club doesn't have a lot of history either and Ryan was - and is - a big party of that organization. Garvey's kind of iffy but, again, the Padres don't have a lot of history. Garvey almost single-handedly put them in their first World Series. I was fortunate to have to have the opportunity to attend the first two games of that World Series and, man, let me tell you he was a hero to the city of San Diego then.

It's also about honoring an individual for his accomplishments. You give him a day, have a ceremony, get the fans to turn out, etc. If the Yankees see fit to retire O'Neill's number, it's no skin off my nose. But I'd see it more along the lines of the Reds retiring Hal Morris' number.

gm
04-23-2008, 02:26 AM
http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/

that would be C. Trent Rosecrans' favorite "misguided" writer

M2
04-23-2008, 11:20 PM
Paul O'Neil wasn't as good a ballplayer as Tommy Henrich was and in all things Yankee history he'll be lumped with the Rolfes, Gordons and Collins as a part of a great team, but not the man that stirred the pot.

The adulation is humorous when viewing it through the spectrum of a Lou Pinella's battles with Paul's approach.

I saw a ton of the Yankees during the 96-00 run. You couldn't be more wrong. O'Neill was the heart and soul of that team. He was the maniac who could never be happy with himself, the man who basically willed himself into being a better player when he put on the pinstripes.

When Red Sox fans began to press countless "Yankees Suck" t-shirts in those years guess what number they put on the back? 21. When Sox fans would go off on Yankees diatribes, it would always come back to O'Neill. Not Jeter, not Bernie, not Rivera, not Tino, not Pettitte, not Cone. Sometimes Clemens, but O'Neill far more than Clemens. O'Neill was the insurmountable will Sox fans knew their team didn't have. They hated and feared him. Yet they instinctively latched onto the notion that the path to beating the hated Yankees was to overcome O'Neill.

I went to high school in western CT in the '80s. I didn't know a single professed Yankees fan during those years. Everyone liked the Mets. I remember visiting my parents in the late '90s and suddenly the area had become a Yankees stronghold. The number on most every t-shirt, bumper sticker and store sign? 21.

Frankly, anyone who didn't recognize O'Neill's centrality to that team simply didn't watch it very much. Sure, maybe you saw them in the playoffs and watched with mild-to-detached interest, but I submit that anyone who really spent some time watching that team would have found it impossible to miss O'Neill's importance. He was the standard for every player on that team, the prototype for the dynasty: the eternally self-dissatisfied player obsessed with his own faults and immune to success.

Honestly, I'm shocked the Yankees clubhouse guys were so clueless as to hand out a #21 to anyone. You didn't have to be Kreskin to know that wouldn't go well.

westofyou
04-23-2008, 11:25 PM
I submit that anyone who really spent some time watching that team would have found it impossible to miss O'Neill's importance.

Funny I've heard the same about Red Rolfe, doesn't make him a guy who should have his number worshiped either.
See.. I never said he was not a central player, I said he wasn't Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle, Berra... that's why the number thing cracks me up... not because he was not a major cog in the machine.

Just like Heinrich, Rolfe, Gordon and Collins.

It doesn't diminish his contribution, but the Yankees have won 90 games 52% of their seasons in their existence... I doubt the number would be much lower without Paul O'Neil.

M2
04-24-2008, 12:02 AM
Funny I've heard the same about Red Rolfe, doesn't make him a guy who should have his number worshiped either.
See.. I never said he was not a central player, I said he wasn't Ruth, Dimaggio, Mantle, Berra... that's why the number thing cracks me up... not because he was not a major cog in the machine.

Just like Heinrich, Rolfe, Gordon and Collins.

It doesn't diminish his contribution, but the Yankees have won 90 games 52% of their seasons in their existence... I doubt the number would be much lower without Paul O'Neil.

This past weekend I was helping my dad with project on his barn. My sister's best friend stopped by (her husband has a truck and he was going with us to pick up some lumber). The subject of the Yankees came up and the first thing out of my sister's best friend's mouth is "They've never been the same since O'Neill left."

I've heard that refrain so many times I've lost count. They'd have won plenty of games without O'Neill in the late '90s too, but they wouldn't have won four World Series. I don't know a Yankees fan who's not convinced to a moral certitude that had O'Neill be around in 2003, the Marlins would have been toast or that no way the Red Sox come back from 3-0 in 2004 if #21 were still on the prowl. Losing to the Angels (twice), Tigers and Indians? Well, stuff like that is a lot easier to do when you don't have to look into Paul O'Neill's eyes.

I find the notion that you have to be Mickey Mantle to get your number retired to be completely off the mark. Maybe O'Neill was no better than Henrich or Bauer, but Yankees fans have made their estimation of O'Neill's value clear. They want that number dedicated to the ages and the man's face on a plaque in Monument Park. Seems to me that's the real standard.

OldRightHander
04-24-2008, 12:28 PM
One thing I still remember about him is game 2 of the '90 NLCS. I was at that game sitting in right field and I still remember that throw to nail Van Slyke at third. With most players there is always a moment that stands out in my mind, and that is the one with him. I think he also drove in the winning run in that game as well.

NJReds
04-24-2008, 12:40 PM
I think the signing of Hawkins has as much to do with this as their love for all things O'Neill. Most Yankee fans thought Hawkins was an awful signing in the first place.

If, say, the Yankees had traded for Johan Santana and he was wearing #21, or Joba came into this season wearing #21, I don't think you'd hear a peep from the Yankee fans.

westofyou
04-25-2008, 10:24 AM
Way more than you wanted on retired numbers! (http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/04/23/way-more-than-you-wanted-on-retired-numbers/)


New York Yankees

Greatness
3, Babe Ruth
4. Lou Gehrig
5, Joe DiMaggio
7, Mickey Mantle
8, Yogi Berra and Bill Dickey
10, Phil Rizzuto
16, Whitey Ford
37, Casey Stengel
44, Reggie Jackson

Emotional
9, Roger Maris
15, Thurman Munson

Importance
32, Elston Howard

Special Yankee Category
1, Billy Martin
23, Don Mattingly
49, Ron Guidry

Comment: Whew. I’m not going to lie to you; when I mocked the notion of the Yankees retiring Paul O’Neill’s number, I was not fully aware of just what kind of jersey-retiring fetish they have going there in the Bronx. I mean, hey, I was a huge Ron Guidry fan — he was the one Yankees player I allowed myself to like when I was a kid (I even remember reading his book in college, the appropriately titled “Guidry”). He was terrific. But, yeah, do you think Yankees fans would scoff if the Royals retired Bret Saberhagen’s number? Sabes was BETTER than Guidry. Man, Yankees fans do fall in love, don’t they?

Even with all that, I still don’t see any case for retiring Paul O’Neill’s number, I really don’t. As much as the Yankees apparently love themselves and their own history, a retired jersey should mean something. Roy White was probably a better player than O’Neill, he played with the Yankees his whole career, where’s his retired jersey? Dave Winfield played with the Yankees for about as long as O’Neill, he was a superior player, he’s in the Hall of Fame, he happened to be there when the Yankees stunk … where’s his retired jersey? Chris Chambliss hit one of the biggest home runs in Yankees history. Willie Randolph was much closer, in my mind to a Hall of Fame caliber player than Paul O’Neill. You may see where I’m going with that.

And that doesn’t include Bobby Murcer, Graig Nettles, Moose Skowron, Hank Bauer … guys, the Yankees have had a lot of really good players. That’s why they have won a billion-shmillion pennants. Let’s not get caught up on retiring a guy’s number because you like the way he whacked the water cooler after hitting into a double play.*

NJReds
04-25-2008, 11:09 AM
Way more than you wanted on retired numbers! (http://joeposnanski.com/JoeBlog/2008/04/23/way-more-than-you-wanted-on-retired-numbers/)

Additionally, you'll see the following in the future:

2 - Jeter
42 - Mariano (although it's already been retired for Jackie Robinson, so nobody can wear it after Mariano retires)

I'm guessing that Bernie misses the cut, as will Posada.

ARod's #13 ... that will be interesting. But I'm guessing that if he finishes his career in the Bronx, that number will be retired as well.

Big Klu
04-25-2008, 01:22 PM
Additionally, you'll see the following in the future:

2 - Jeter
42 - Mariano (although it's already been retired for Jackie Robinson, so nobody can wear it after Mariano retires)

I'm guessing that Bernie misses the cut, as will Posada.

ARod's #13 ... that will be interesting. But I'm guessing that if he finishes his career in the Bronx, that number will be retired as well.

What about Joe Torre's #6?

NJReds
04-25-2008, 04:10 PM
What about Joe Torre's #6?

I'm not sure. He didn't leave under the best of circumstances. I don't think Hal and Hank will be honoring Joe anytime soon.