We’ve been beating the “what cap should so-and-so wear on their Hall of Fame plaque” thing into the ground, but since nothing else is going on right now let’s keep beating.
I just read the weirdest column. It’s from Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The topic: which cap should Mike Mussina wear? Orioles or Yankees? The argument would seem pretty straight forward: more years and better overall performance in Baltimore, but more glory and postseason appearances with the Yankees. I think it’s fair to say that reasonable people can disagree on which cap makes more sense for him.
Davidoff’s column is weird, though, in that it takes a different tack than “which cap is more appropriate?” It argues, not super convincingly, that he should pick the Yankees because . . . they don’t take their history as seriously as the Orioles do. That, while Mussina rates with the history-is-cheap legacy of the Yankees, he does not measure up to the towering figures in Orioles history and is not necessarily worth the serious reverence O’s fans give their heroes.
Walk a lap around the game’s best ballpark, and you’ll see statues of six revered Orioles: Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Cal Ripken Jr., Brooks Robinson, Frank Robinson and Earl Weaver. If you can gain access to the press box, you’ll see a wonderful photo of that beloved sextet together, wearing Orioles caps, at a Hall induction ceremony in Cooperstown. They are the only people with Orioles caps in the Hall.
Would Mussina belong in a theoretical group photo (Weaver died in 2013) to make it a Magnificent Seven? Does his time in Charm City merit a statue? . . . An Orioles cap, though, just wouldn’t feel right for a player who registered his greatest memories elsewhere and a franchise that takes its history so seriously.
I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.
Is there a team which “takes its history more seriously” than the New York Yankees? Are they not the team about which people, including and especially New York tabloid columnists, debate who is and who is not a “true” member? Indeed, I can think of no other team whose fans and press corps are more protective of its history and who spend more time gatekeeping the matter of who is and who is not actually entitled to being remembered as a franchise great than the Yankees. Books have been written about this stuff.
I suppose Davidoff’s central observation, in isolation makes sense: the Orioles don’t have a lot of Hall of Famers, but all of them are people we consider “inner circle” types who are almost exclusively identified with the Orioles. At the same time, the standards for making Monument Park and getting one’s number retired in New York have become a bit more easy in recent years than they used to be. Still, it’s probably still worth noting that (a) one of the one the guys he mentions — Eddie Murray — played more than a third of his games for other teams; and (b) it’s not like the Yankees acknowledge that their historical standards have declined. Rather, they simply seem to be claiming that lesser figures such as Paul O’Neill or whoever are all-time greats by virtue of their time in pinstripes.
To be clear: I don’t have a strong opinion on which cap Mussina wears. I can see arguments for both. But it strikes me that his choice in the matter should be a bit more basic and straight forward than “do I measure up to the towering history of the Baltimore Orioles, or am I better suited for the history-is-cheap Yankees?”