Yankees Suck postsSaturday April 02, 2016
Yankees Suck, Reason #38, Cont.
Two years ago I posted about the shabby treatment of Vic Power at the hands of the New York Yankees, which appeared to be grooming him to become the team's first black player—roughly seven years after Jackie Robinson broke through with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Then ... not so much. They kept him down in the minors for several seasons, and, in December 1953, traded him in a multiplayer deal with the A's (then in Philly), where he made his major league debut on April 13, 1954. A year later, he had a .319/.354/.505 line while playing Gold-Gloveish D. (He wound up winning seven GGs during his career.) And even though the by-then Kansas City A's were essentially a Yankees farm club between 1955 and 1960—shipping to the perennial champs the likes of Roger Maris, Ralph Terry and Hector Lopez—Power stayed in KC.
Because? Racism? Well, the Yankees did bring up Elston Howard, and he made his MLB debut on April 14, 1955—eight years minus one day from the day Jackie broke the color barrier—so some might say it wasn't really racism. But it kinda was.
I'm reading Bill Madden's book, “1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever,” and Madden goes into it a bit. Here's Tom Greenwade, the Yankee scout who signed Mickey Mantle, in a 1960 interview with New York Herald-Tribune's Harold Rosenthal on the Yankees' supposed reluctance to break the color barrier:
The Yankees have never discriminated against Negroes. Our policy has always been: “When we find one good enough, we'll take him.” Vic Power and Rubén Gómez were not the right type. You had to know Power's reputation. He's a bad actor. Chases after white women and stirs up trouble. We had trouble with him in Kansas City [the Yankees' Triple A farm team] and we knew he wasn't going to the Yankees, so we got rid of him. Elston Howard, on the other hand, is a high type of Negro. He was the one we wanted.
Madden's book also details the ways Yankees owner Del Web and GM George Weiss screwed over the supercolorful Bill Veck to keep him from moving the hapless St. Louis Browns to either Milwaukee or Baltimore, or possibly the west coast, opening the door for the Dodgers and Giants to do that. The Browns eventually moved to Baltimore but under different ownership.
Why the Yankees Suck This Week
The same day Bryce Harper was the unanamious MVP in the National League for the Washington Nationals, I came across these tweets from Yankee fans:
Same old same old. See Reason No. 6 here.
A Song for the 2015 New York Yankees
Sing it, Carey. And sing it slow and sad.
Astros 3, Yankees 0. Start spreading the news.
Yankees Retire 19th Number, 20th Player
ERRATA, August 23: Make that 20 numbers, 21 players, with Andy Pettitte's #46 being retired today. Don't know how I missed that. No date set yet for Jeter's #2.
Here are more numbers to fuel anti-Yankee Nation.
The New York Yankees have won twice as many pennants as the next-best team (40-20, over the Giants), and more than twice as many World Series titles as the next-best team (27-11, over the Cardinals). They spend more money than anyone, most years, and hog the spotlight. They're hogs—the Donald Trumps of Major League Baseball.
So it's no surprise that they've also retired more numbers than any other team, and today they added to their collection.
Jorge Posada, their regular catcher from 1998 to 2010, and, along with Jeter, Rivera and Pettitte, one of the “Core Four”—the four players that (mostly) stuck with the Yankees during the recent dynasty years, before the crumbling and fan-grumbling began—had his number (20) retired today at Yankee Stadium. It's the 19th number the Yankees have retired. And that doesn't include Derek Jeter's No. 2, which will soon go. And it's only counting the No. 8 once, when, for New York, it was so nice they retired it twice: for both Bill Dickey and Yogi Berra.
Here's the list, team by team (and updated, per above), and not including all the 42s for Jackie Robinson retired throughout MLB (except, of course, for the Dodgers):
|New York Yankees||20|
|St. Louis Cardinals||12|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||10|
|San Francisco Giants||9|
|Boston Red Sox||8|
|Chicago White Sox||6|
|Los Angeles Angels||5|
|San Diego Padres||5|
|Kansas City Royals||3|
|New York Mets||3|
|Tampa Bay Rays||1|
|Toronto Blue Jays||1|
A few teams, instead of going overboard, have actually gone underboard when retiring numbers. The worst culprit is my Seattle Mariners, who, despite such talent as Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez on the team, have yet to retire anything. I figure they'll get this ball rolling after Junior goes into the Hall of Fame next year. It'll probably go Junior, Edgar, Ichiro, eventually Felix. Maybe Buhner. Maybe Alvin Davis, maybe Jamie Moyer. Maybe.
The Mets also seem to under-retire: Just Tom Seaver and two managers: Stengel and Hodges. Shouldn't someone else be in the mix? Ed Kranepool? Tommy Agee? Dwight Gooden? Daryl Strawberry? Maybe not. But David Wright down the line.
Most teams, though, go overboard in this realm. Start with the Yanks' so-so picks. Billy? One title in '77. Maris? An apology for all the boos. Munson? Sorrow for dying young. Elston Howard? Oops, it sure took us a long time to integrate, didn't it. Reggie? Based on three homers.
The White Sox have retired some pretty medicore numbers, too, while the Indians retired “455” for the fans (a stupid gesture) and the Cards 12 retirees are a mixed bag. (August Busch? Plus three managers?)
The worst, though, has got to be the Houston Astros, which came into existence in 1962, has one pennant, and yet has somehow retired nine numbers. I'll give you Biggio and Bagwell, and maybe Mike Scott, particularly for '86. But I think that's about it. Nolan Ryan's best years were elsewhere, Jimmy Wynn was only a three-time All-Star, Jose Cruz and Larry Dierker were only two-time All-Stars, and the remaining two are guys who died young: Jim Umbricht and Don Wilson. That's sad but I don't know if it deserves being up on the wall.
So does Posada deserve having his number retired? I could make arguments for and against. He was a five-time All-Star with a higher lifetime OPS than Jeter (.848 to .817). But in the World Series, where it counts to Yankees fans, he hit only .219 in 29 games. The only thing he ever led the league in was grounded into double plays. Twice. I think he's mostly honored because of the Core Four thing.
How the Yankees Almost Got Ty Cobb 13 Years Before They Got Babe Ruth
From Charles Leerhsen's biography “Ty Cobb: A Terrible Beauty”:
Clark Griffith of New York had hinted that [Tigers new manager Hughie Jennings] might want to make a swap. When Hughie heard back from the Highlanders the next day, however, they were offering only Frank Delahanty, a .238 hitter, a proposal that was either, as Hughie said, “a humorous effort,” or an indication of just how wary some people were of young Tyrus.
This was before the start of the 1907 season. Cobb, who at this point was 20 years old and had played 139 games over the two previous seasons (batting .293), would go untraded. There'd been strife on the team, according to Leerhsen, because some of the other players, northerners mostly, disliked Cobb, who kept to himself, had airs, read books, and was, you know, good. They hazed him for the better part of a season. To some, Jennings mostly, it would just be easier to get rid of the kid, but Tigers' business manager (and eventual owner) Frank Navin liked Cobb and squelched any deal.
Over the next 13 seasons, Cobb would win 12 batting titles, lead the league in OPS nine times, hits eight times, runs five times, RBIs four times, and stolen bases six times. The Tigers would also win three straight pennants (but no championships).
The Highlanders, soon to be the Yankees, would have to wait out those 13 seasons before they began their turnaround.