Peter Abraham is reporting on his blog that Latroy Hawkins is going to give up wearing jersey number 21 due to the negative response he has been getting from Yankee fans. If you're just catching on, the basic story is that Hawkins chose the number 21, which was formerly worn by Paul O'Niell. Hawkins chose it in memory of Roberto Clemente, which earned him points in my book.
I can understand having an emotional attachment to a player, but Yankee fans really acted disgracefully in this case. How are you going to boo your own player on opening day? This isn't Kyle Farnsworth. He hadn't even thrown a pitch, and yet because he chose to honor one of his idle's in Roberto Clemente, the fans decide to boo him, because of an imaginary insult to Paul O'Niell. Yankee fans always talk about how much class the organization has, but the way they acted was completely classless.
If someone out there wants to defend their booing of Hawkins, I would love to hear your argument, because it has me completely dumbfounded. Its not like Hawkins was walking around saying "Screw Paul O'Niell, I'm the real 21!".
I loved Paul O'Niell as a player. He had a canon for an arm, and his temper tantrums were legendary. He had a lot of fire in his belly, and wanted to play the game right. Whenever I see a player strikeout in a big spot and just walk away like nothing happened, I remember Paul O'Niell destroying water coolers and batting helmets. He had a lot of passion. If you want to honor Paul O'Niell, go to some Yankee games and cheer for the team he played so hard for.
O'Niell should have stepped in and squashed this thing himself, and I wonder if he is hurt by the team not retiring his number. The Yankees abuse retiring numbers. Don't get me wrong, many are legit, but when you have as many numbers retired as the Yankees do, you really need to be more selective before every player has to pick numbers in the 70's.