Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What 50 Cent and the Yankees retiring numbers have in common

Will the Yankees retire 50 Cent's number next?
When the New York Mets want to get fannies in the seats for a particular game, they have a postgame concert. 50 Cent's June 14, 2014 concert at Citi Field was the third-best attendance the Mets had all year, after Opening Day and Derek Jeter's last Subway Series game in Queens. And their Huey Lewis and the News postgame concert drew very well as well.

When the New York Yankees want to get fannies in the seats for a particular game, they retire numbers or give somebody a Monument Park plaque -- or both. The 2015 number retirement/plaque unveiling ceremonies for Bernie Williams, Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada are sure to draw big crowds, and Willie Randolph getting a plaque should give this year's Old Timers' Day more buzz than usual.

But here's the thing. Having a postgame concert doesn't have any real aftereffects on the team. But retiring Pettitte's and Posada's numbers are very bad precedents, and are shortsighted moves which are more about selling tickets in the very short-term than thinking about the team's long-term history. If selling tickets is the reasoning, I would much rather see the Yankees put some postgame concerts on instead!

IMHO, given how many great players wore pinstripes, some standards need to apply. To me, the standard is that either the person is a slam-dunk MLB HOFer, or that they had some particular big meaning to the team in their era. Don Mattingly is not a Hall of Famer, but he was a Yankee captain and the dominant Yankee player of his era.

Using those standards, Bernie Williams would arguably make it --he was the Yankees' best player for the 1990s -- but Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte would not -- they were never the best player on the team. They were very good players, but are they at the number-retiring level? No way. But because they are part of the dopey rhyme known as the "Core Four," they are getting an honor I don't think they deserve.

First of all, you have Pettitte, an admitted PED user, getting this honor at the same time the Yankees are trying to prevent A-Rod from getting that milestone bonus payout. Talk about a disconnect! (And please, spare me Pettitte's nonsense that he just did it to recover from an injury. So did Mark McGwire. Doesn't mean that they didn't engage in performance-enhancing drugs -- recovering early from an injury is performance-enhancing!)

Then there is the case of Posada -- who is hardly the team-first guy of his image (remember his sitdown snit after he was moved to ninth in the batting order?) The Ringo (or Zeppo Marx, as SullyBaseball calls him) of the so-called Core Four is getting this honor. Was Posada a very good catcher? Yes. Does he deserve his number retired? No way.

Now, given that Tino Martinez (!) has a plaque in Monument Park -- another short-sighted move done so the Yankees could sell tickets -- the bar is so low that it is hard to argue against Pettitte and Posada being in Monument Park. But that being said, I think that the team should have 1) had more of a grace period for putting them in the park, and 2) should not couple this with retiring their number.

At any rate, what is the Yankees' plan for 2015, besides incessant walks down memory lane and scapegoating A-Rod for everything that goes wrong? It's gonna be a long year. Can't we at least get a 50 Cent concert of our own? Just him throwing out the first pitch again would probably get a sellout crowd! Just don't retire No. 50 for him!

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