The Yankees will retire three more numbers in 2015
Monument Park is way too crowded. As an organization, the New York Yankees put themselves on a higher pedestal than the rest of Major League Baseball every season. This is due in large part to former owner George Steinbrenner, whose mindset was "World Series or bust" every season while he was the man in charge. There's nothing wrong with that. In a league with no salary cap, if you play in the biggest city in the world, generate the most revenue and spend more money than any other team in the league, sure, expectations should be higher than others. That being said, the standard for being immortalized in New York Yankees history is inconsistent. This year, Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada will join other notable Yankees in Monument Park.
By the end of the 2015 season, there will be 21 numbers on display behind the center field wall that will never be worn by a Yankee again (not including Derek Jeter's, whose number will undoubtedly be retired, it's just a matter of when). The number 21, worn by the warrior himself, Paul O'Neill, has been a topic of debate by the Yankees' fanbase since he retired after the 2001 season. On two separate occasions in 2008, players the Yankees acquired were basically forced to switch jersey numbers due to fan outrage, and the number isn't even retired.
Morgan Ensberg felt so uncomfortable wearing No. 21 in Spring Training, shocked at the amount of heat he received, that he abandoned his exhibition digits in favor of No. 11.
When utility infielder Morgan Ensberg ditched the number, newly acquired relief pitcher LaTroy Hawkins took the opportunity to honor a baseball legend. While his tribute to Roberto Clemente was kindhearted, it wasn't enough for the fans.
After being routinely booed for wearing Paul O'Neill's old No. 21, Hawkins is finally crying uncle and switching to No. 22 for tonight's game against Boston.
Hawkins made the decision to change after talking to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera; both said it wasn't worth the headache that it has been causing in the Bronx. Fortunately for the name of team chemistry, Hawkins made an admired decision to listen to his team leaders.
To this day, the number 21 is not retired. Why? Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada were part of the same era Paul O'Neill played in and he was just as revered by Yankee fans, if not more. It's a debate that doesn't make much sense, and it exists because the qualifications for this honor are odd to say the least.
Some teams only retire the numbers of those who are in the Baseball Hall of Fame. To date, over forty people have been inducted into the Hall of Fame who played or managed (or both) for the Yankees at some point. Twenty-two of those hall-of-famers were inducted as Yankees, yet not all of those hall of famers received the retired number treatment. Reggie Jackson did, even though he only played in New York for five seasons.
Non-hall-of-famers like Don Mattingly and Ron Guidry have their numbers retired. They were great Yankees and contributed greatly in their own way to the team's success while they were there, so why not just give them a plaque in Monument Park, where Goose Gossage (who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008 as a Yankee), very good first basemen Tino Martinez and the aforementioned warrior, Paul O'Neill reside?
To have your number retired, you don't need to be a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame. You do not need to play your entire career with the Yankees. Examples: Reggie Jackson, Roger Maris. You don't need to win a World Series. Example: Don Mattingly. So then what exactly are the qualifications? Are there any?
Are you excited to see Andy Pettitte, Bernie Williams and Jorge Posada have their numbers retired by the New York Yankees this season? Let us know in the comment section below.