John Hickey of the Mercury-News reports that Josh Reddick gave up his number 16 to Billy Butler when Country Breakfast signed with the A’s. The price? Not high: “For Reddick, giving up 16 wasn’t a major hardship, particularly since he got a new X-Box from Butler out of it as a token of appreciation.”
John Lackey gave Pat Neshek an autographed Babe Ruth ball when he was traded to the Cardinals last year. A.J. Burnett started a college fund for Daniel McCutchen’s kid in exchange for a number. Julio Borbon once gave Adrian Beltre his number for an expensive watch. Jim Thome gave Alexi Casilla a Rolex. My favorite of all time — which I mention whenever this comes up — was former Giants punter Jeff Feagles who got Plaxico Burress to pay for an outdoor kitchen at his vacation home in Phoenix in exchange for number 17 and — before that — got Eli Manning to send the Feagles’ family on a vacation to Florida in order to give up number 10.
So, in the grand scheme: an X-Box seems a bit . . . light.
I feel like the price was low, though, thanks to some psychology on Butler’s part. Read in the article how he talked about how it was such a duty — he even calls it an “unwritten rule” — for a player to give up his number to a guy with more service time. Which may very well be true, but the way in which Butler talks up that proposition for the article — like it’s a law — makes me wonder if Butler put that pitch to Reddick too. You know, to lean on him some.
And maybe he sold Reddick some undercoating too. Great deal on that undercoating.
We noted this last month when the Yankees announced that they were retiring a new batch of numbers. Today the New York Times has an article noting that, between all of the retired numbers and having so many players in camp for spring training, options are particularly limited at the moment:
The Yankees’ equipment manager, Rob Cucuzza, keeps a color-coded spreadsheet listing in numerical order which player is assigned to each number. Retired numbers are highlighted in black, and ones that are already taken are in blue. The only numbers currently available are 38, 50, 57 and 69.
As with a lot of things, my thinking has evolved on this stuff in the past few years. I used to think retiring a non-great’s number was kind of silly and I’ll still occasionally make jokes about the number of numbers the Yankees have retired. Such jokes are easy and I LOVE easy jokes. I’m never gonna stop doing that.
But I’ve grown to be quite liberal when it comes to retiring numbers. Rules teams make about the player having to have been inducted into the Hall of Fame or, short of that, having crazy-high standards for number retirement seem silly to me. The more the merrier. A number retirement isn’t some act of God or government. It’s a nice gesture to a player and, really, to the fans who enjoyed that player’s career. Sure, one could say it should only be Mount Rushmore types getting the honor, but it’s not like the only Yankees players fans connected to are Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio. You want to retire Jorge Posada’s number? Why not?
If anything, I’d like to see more numbers retired around baseball. It’s a crime that the Tigers haven’t retired Alan Trammell’s 3 and Lou Whitaker’s 1. Maybe public relations concerns keep the Mets from honoring Strawberry and Gooden, but why haven’t they made any gestures towards the 80s teams with which so many fans connect? How about Gary Carter’s 8? How about Keith Hernandez’s 17?
I’m sure fans of any team can point to a couple of players they’d like to see so-honored. A couple of numbers which should be put up on the wall. Maybe not as many as the Yankees have, but a few.
The Yankees played an intrasquad game today. The fun part: instead of using an actual pitcher, they used a pitching machine. Even more fun: watching the folks who were at the game reporting on the results Yankees hitters had against the pitching machine:
Not great, of course. I mean, A-Rod is trying to win a job as a DH! How can he do that when he can’t hit a pitching machine! Oh, wait. Given that Chris Young’s success will, indirectly, help determine whether or not A-Rod will get a chance to DH against righties, I’d say he’ll be just fine:
Speaking of fine, you know Young will be fined by his teammates’ kangaroo court for whiffing against the machine.
In other news, in case my tone was unclear or misleading, this does not matter. At all. Regarding anything. Just remember that tomorrow when the usual New York suspects make a point to talk about A-Rod’s o-fer.
I feel a little nervous putting this out there without getting confirmation from two independent sources and running this by a team of editors, but Don Mattingly said this morning that Clayton Kershaw was going to be the Dodgers’ Opening Day starter.
We’ll have some thinkpieces and news analysis from experts on this development as the day unfolds. Until we do, maybe Vox has a news explainer on this which can help us all process it.
This is fun. Red Sox scout Gary Hughes lives in a town just outside of Santa Cruz, which is Giants country. The priest at his church decided to rib him over the Sox signing Pablo Sandoval away from the Giants and got the whole congregation to boo him.
I like this story for two reasons. One being that it’s a reminder that, even though baseball has long since died, we occasionally see signs that people actually care enough about it to have the occasional, fleeting feeling. Also: because it’s a reminder that, unlike the case a century or two ago, a church congregation/townspeople can be turned on someone without torches and pitchforks being brought out.
Or maybe that’s sad. A good old rampage of the townspeople can be a lot of fun.