That sure is a long line of retired numbers. (Photo by flickr user aeonix01)

The Yankee fan masses have spoken. After three days of voting, 79 percent of you feel that Paul O’Neill’s number should not be retired while 21 percent of you would like to see 21 added to the growing list of Yankee retired numbers.

Despite these overwhelmingly one-sided results, the debate has generated a lot of conversation about the nature of retired numbers and the way the Yanks go about retiring the numbers. Some fans seem to feel that the Yanks retire way too much numbers; others feel that the honors are warranted. And no one can agree on exactly what standards are applied to a player to determine if a number is retired.

Take Phil Rizzuto’s number 10. Rizzuto is, famously, in the Hall of Fame after many passionate fans waged a rather rabid campaign to get him inducted, and one could say that he’s in the Hall as much for his decades-long career behind the microphone as he is for his play on the field. In fact, his play on the field, while great at its peak, wasn’t that spectacular overall. He played 13 years for the Yanks and hit .273/.351/.355.

In 1985, the Yanks decided to hang up Rizzuto’s 10. At that point, he had been retired for 31 years, and seven other players — including Chris Chambliss, Tony Kubek and Rick Cerone — had worn 10. Why the Yankees opted then to retire Rizzuto’s number is anyone’s guess. In fact, as an August 18, 1985 letter to The Times shows, Yankee fans 23 years ago were not of the mind that Rizzuto was deserving of a spot alongside the Yankee greats.

Ron Guidry’s 49 and Reggie Jackson’s 44 are also big question marks. Guidry was great for a long stretch but not a baseball immortal. Reggie had a few iconic games in the post-season for a team that played during an era when George Steinbrenner was hell-bent on winning the World Series. He ended up spending just five of his 21 seasons in the Bronx.

Interestingly, the timing of these two retirement ceremonies raises an eyebrow or two as well. Reggie’s number was retired in 1993 when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. At the time, the Yanks were mired in their worst World Series drought since the early years of the Twentieth Century, and perhaps, George was looking to recapture some of the aura of his glory years of the 1970s. Guidry’s number was retired in 2003 right when he was returning to the Bronx fold. The Times speculated that perhaps it was some sort of gesture of appreciation designed to draw Guidry into a soon-to-be vacant coaching job.

Whatever the case, retired numbers are a prickly issue in Yankee-land. Fans of players from recent teams grow vehement in their arguments for or against enshrinement in the outfield. Take the 1990s teams. Off the top of my head, I would guess that Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Joe Torre and Bernie Williams will see their numbers retired. Paul O’Neill supporters will feel slighted, and Jorge Posada fans will wonder why their catcher doesn’t get the same respect. Andy Pettitte‘s 46 never comes up and was in fact given out to five players during’s Pettitte’s three years in Houston. And the A-Rod debate will rage forever until or unless the Yanks win a few rings while he’s in town.

Meanwhile, as the Yanks slowly run out of respectable numbers, a few fans have floated the idea of un-retiring certain numbers while keeping the number circles up as monuments in Monument Park. While I like the idea in principle, how that would work is again anyone’s guess.

The Yankees have a tricky balancing act to perform. They have a vast history that they want to enshrine and recall. They have legends of the game and legends of the Bronx and just plain old fan favorites. As the available numbers decrease and more plaques find their way to the left field park, these debates will only grow more boisterous. Who needs single-digit numbers anyway?

Categories : Days of Yore
Comments (39)

Triple-A Scranton (3-0 win over Rochester)
Brett Gardner: 1 for 1, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 CS – picked off first
Juan Miranda, Jason Lane & Cody Ransom: all 1 for 4 – Miranda K’ed & extended his hitting streak to 7 games … Lane hit a solo jack & K’ed
Shelley: 0 for 4 – 2 for his last 22
Nick Green: 2 for 4, 2 K
Bernie Castro: 1 for 2, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 CS
Darrell Rasner: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 10-9 GB/FB – 63 of 90 pitches were strikes (70%) for the man with a 0.72 ERA … I’ve been telling you since he was claimed off waivers, don’t sleep on D-Ras, he’s better than he gets credit for
Jose Veras: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

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Categories : Down on the Farm
Comments (24)
  • Hank, Cashman clear the Joba-filled air
    By

    According to PeteAbe, the whole much ado about Joba has been resolved, and Hank and Cashman are on the same page. Cashman explained that Joba’s move to the pen was spurred on last year by the youngster’s innings cap, and he reiterated the plan to move Joba into the rotation later this season. While this whole kiss-and-make-up thing is nice, I’m glad this drama played itself out today. What else would we have done with this off-day? · (2) ·

  • Leagues, teams feeling the blogging tension
    By

    Tim Arango, a Times business reporter, chimed in today with a feature on the tensions between bloggers and the teams and leagues they cover. The piece looks at all facets of the issue — from the credentialed (PeteAbe) bloggers to the non-credentialed bloggers (us) and the various relationships with their subjects. Journalists are growing wary of sports leagues asserting control, and the sports leagues are asserting their rights as private businesses. The article doesn’t even get into the heart of the dispute between old-school media traditionalists and bloggers. How all of these tensions will one day be resolved is anyone’s guess. · (4) ·

As we can see in the previous thread, not every Yankees fan is in agreement on every issue. And nor should we be. Baseball is a complex game, from the field to the front office. And so we debate over the issues.

While it seems most of us enjoy the current format of the site, we’re thinking about adding something that will expand upon our comments sections. Instead of writing a diatribe in response to someone else — and not knowing if 5 or 5,000 people will read it — wouldn’t you rather get your two cents in on the main page?

Yes, we’re thinking about opening up a guest column series. However, I want to do a preliminary check to see if there’s enough interest in it. After all, a guest column series wouldn’t be all that fun if we had the same three people submitting stuff every week. So here’s what I want to do.

If you’re interested in doing a guest spot on RAB, email me (it’s in the masthead on the left) and let me know. Pitch an idea or two if you want, too. The hope is to get an idea of how many people are interested by mid-week, and then get the contest up and running sometime next week.

Oh yeah: There’s a chance that the spam filter on my email might block out some of your emails. If you don’t hear back from me within a day or so, feel free to hit me with another one.

Comments (30)

Despite Hank Steinbrenner’s demand that Joba be inserted into the rotation, that move will not happen any time soon. Not that we didn’t know that. His innings cap will keep him in a limited role until at least mid-June, and at latest until the All-Star break. From the GM himself:

“Joba’s staying in the bullpen right now,” The Yankee GM told Newsday in a telephone conversation this morning. “That’s where we’re at. [Putting him in the rotation is] not something that’s going to happen here early on, and [Hank] knows that. We’ve talked about it. I don’t know what set him off.”

I’m fairly certain that the recent performances from Hughes and IPK are what set him off. I can’t blame him one bit. During each of their last outings, I found myself tossing things across the room (pillows, thankfully), and screaming “throw strikes!!!!,” much to the chagrin of my neighbors. It’s frustrating. But it can certainly turn around.

I have faith that the kids will grow into their roles and perform well this season. It’s not like Hughes and IPK are guys with suspect control, and who are now being exploited in the majors. They’re two guys with good control (superb in Kennedy’s case) who just aren’t getting it done. They’re going to have to get back to the basics for a bit. And unfortunately, that could mean a few games where they get bombed. But I’d far rather see that than to see them racking up enormous pitch counts early in games.

Joba to the rotation is going to happen. All signs point to it. We just have to be patient. I know that’s a tall order on the Bronx, but it’s what’s required at this point. I’m very surprised more people didn’t learn that after last season.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (85)
  • A thought on Jorge
    By

    When Jorge Posada returns to this catching duties — which, by most accounts, could be some time this week — opposing teams will and should run like the dickens off of him until he shows he can throw out baserunners. This could present something of a problem for the Yanks over the next few weeks. I hope the Yanks hold back on Jorge behind the plate until they are 100 percent sure he’s ready to go. · (15) ·

The Yanks won today, and as is often the case when the Yankees win, I’m happy not to nitpick the game.

I could write about how Jason Giambi is 3 for 3 with 2 HR and 4 RBI against Mike Timlin and 2 for 43 with no home runs and 2 RBIs against everyone else. But SG at RLYW did a better job writing about Giambi and his potential future in New York in this post.

I could opine about the silver lining in the timing of A-Rod‘s injury. His wife is due to give birth this week, and his quad strain can heal while he attends to Cynthia. But Kat O’Brien already wrote a whole story about A-Rod’s injury.

Instead, I’ll write about the words of wisdom that Hank Steinbrenner, quiet through the season’s first 20 games, threw our way this evening. Take it away, Michael S. Schmidt:

With the Yankees off to a 10-10 start, and with two of their young starters struggling, the Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner said there was one thing in particular he would like to change: He wants Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees’ hard-throwing setup man, to move into the rotation.

“I want him as a starter and so does everyone else, including him, and that is what we are working toward and we need him there now,” Steinbrenner said Sunday by telephone. “There is no question about it, you don’t have a guy with a 100-mile-per-hour fastball and keep him as a setup guy. You just don’t do that. You have to be an idiot to do that.”

Here at RAB, we try to be a bit more diplomatic about it than Hank is, but the man’s got a point. He continued: “The mistake was already made last year switching him to the bullpen out of panic or whatever. I had no say in it last year and I wouldn’t have allowed it. That was done last year, so now we have to catch up. It has to be done on a schedule so we don’t rush him.”

Hank, for the record, also feels that Mike Mussina “just needs to learn how to pitch like Jamie Moyer.” And I agree; as I’ve said numerous times, Mussina simply cannot get hitters out by blowing them away with his 85-mph fastball. In fact, he’s gotten few swing-and-misses this year. Mussina instead must get by while command and guile. He has seemingly yet to embrace that.

But Mike Mussina aside, the good stuff here is really about Joba. Hank wants his hard-throwing power pitching throwing innings that count. He doesn’t want him throwing rather meaningless 8th innings in three-run games. Hank sees a rotation struggling with command, struggling with getting guys out, and he knows that a potential fix is waiting in the Yankee bullpen.

Right now, simply because of innings limits, the Yanks can’t rush Joba into the starting rotation. But the tide is turing; the Yankees will deploy Joba in the rotation sooner rather than later. And it seems to me that, as Hank professed his faith in Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy, Mike Mussina is now on notice. Shape up; those footsteps you hear are from the 22-year-old fan-favorite will four Major League-caliber pitches under his belt.

Categories : News
Comments (83)
  • Restacking the rotation
    By

    Per PeteAbe comes word that the Yanks are shuffling the rotation slightly. With the day off, the Yanks are pushing Ian Kennedy back a day and moving Andy Pettitte in between Phil Hughes and Kennedy. This move is designed to give the bullpen a one-day breather, but hopefully, Hughes and Kennedy will straighten out their pitch-count issues sooner rather than later. And, yes, Mike Mussina is still in the rotation. · (24) ·