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.