Should #21 be retired?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

With Syracuse apparently about to be getting some heavy snow, the University canceled afternoon classes, which is a big deal. They cancel classes because of the weather less often than Robinson Cano gets a hit with runners in scoring position. Boom! Roasted! (Sorry Robby.) The last time they canceled an entire day of snow was before I was born, so even half a day off is unexpected. So with an impending storm and a stomach virus going around my dorm that is basically causing this, it should make for an interesting weekend.

Paul O'Neil at the 2008 All Stars and Legends ...Image via Wikipedia

Anyway, yesterday, the Derek Jeter press conference got a lot of talk on the ESPN, but that had more to do with the fact that its February and it was a slow news day. News sources try to stir up controversial stories out of nothing to draw viewers because that's what they are in the business of doing: drawing viewers. We all know that Jeter will retire as a Yankee, have his number retired, and then go into the Hall of Fame as a Yankee.

But that second point, having his number retired, got me thinking about another Yankee great, Paul O'Neill.

O'Neill retired after the 2001 World Series, with a memorable sendoff from the Yankee Stadium faithful, after a 17-year career.

His number 21 had not been reissued until 2008, when it was given to LaTroy Hawkins. That lasted all of 2 weeks before Hawkins changed to number 22 after a talk with Jeter and Mariano Rivera. The fans would jeer and start the "Paul-O-Neill" chant whenever Hawkins entered the game, leading to the change.

The number has not been given out since, leading to the question of whether #21 should be retired forever.

Case for the number being retired:
  • He was an integral part of 4 World Series Championships
  • 4-Time All-Star
  • Yankee Stats: .303/185 HR/ 858 RBI
  • 6 seasons with over 20 home runs, 4 seasons over 100 RBI's
  • The fans: Will any other player really want to take the number if they are going have to take constant abuse from the fans?
Case against the number being retired:
  • He was only a Yankee for 9 seasons
  • He (most likely) will not be inducted into the Hall of Fame
  • The Yankees already have 17 numbers retired (including 8 twice and Jackie Robinson's 42). With Jeter's #2 and Rivera's #42 sure to be retired how many more numbers can the Yankees afford to retire?
  • There is the possibility that you can "unofficially retire" the number for the next 30-40 years and then reissue the number once my generation of fans (people currently ages approximately 16-29 or the Jeter Generation) is older and a more accepting fan base exists.
Personally, I think the O'Neill should be recognized in some way, but I do not think his number will ever hang in Monument Park. What do you think?



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