Friday, April 25, 2008

Why You Don't Retire Paul O'Neill's Number

LaTroy Hawkins created quite a stir with fans at Yankee stadium when he wore number 21, causing many misguided fans to boo him for wearing Roberto Clemente's number, which was also worn by Paul O'Neill.

Paul was a great Yankee for 9 years. He played well, provided leadership and helped bring 4 World Series titles to the Bronx. I enjoyed watching him play and was always a fan.

Paul O'Neill doesn't deserve to get his number retired.

The Yankees have gone crazy retiring numbers, to the point that retiring numbers doesn't mean much anymore. While Paul was a great player, he wasn't one of the all-time greats.

O'Neill only played 9 years in New York. after 8 season in Cincinnati. It's tough to retire the number of a guy who played almost half his career somewhere else. Bernie Williams was a lifetime Yankee, playing all 16 years in pinstripes, as did Don Mattingly.

Both Williams and Mattingly won multiple Gold Gloves, O'Neill, none. Donnie Baseball actually won an MVP award. O'Neill was on a few all-star teams, but no MVP. Both O'Neill and Mattingly won an AL batting title. Paul put up some better career numbers, but on paper doesn't look as good as Bernie Williams, who finished with a higher career AVG, OBP and SLG and more home runs.

Williams was a quiet guy, who led with exemplary play. Mattingly in addition to being one of the most beloved players in recent Yankee history, was a clubhouse leader. O'Neill fell somewhere between the two.

I'm not trying to diminish Paul O'Neill's accomplishments or put him down. He was a fine player and was a heart of the Yankees team for many years and several championships. He's just not on par with the likes of Babe Ruth or Lou Gehrig, and had stiff competition from his peers in the form of guys like Bernie Williams.

I just don't see number 21 getting retired in the Bronx.

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