Yankees to retire Paul O’Neill’s number

Leather

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All I can picture is a modern day George Costanza saying "We're going to have the Orioles in town for a 3 game series in May - how can we get fans to show up for these crappy games?"

As much as it pains me to say it, the Yankees have a pantheon unrivaled in American sports - Ruth, Gehrig, Dimaggio, Mantle, Berra, Dickey, Jeter, Rizzuto, etc... Paul O'Neill? How the hell does he belong? Wally Pip has a higher WAR as a Yankee.

Moose Skowron must be rolling over in his grave.
Don Mattingly's is retired. For some reason, Willie Randolph's is not.
 

terrynever

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This is exactly who I thought of. Skowron is a similar-ish case, but better.
Moose was not in O’Neill’s class as a hitter. Bailing out all the game. But occasionally he would one-hand a pitch to RF that would sneak inside the 296-foot foul pole. Moose was a better punter than Paulie. Punted for Purdue in his college days.
 

mauf

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Well, this won’t be the worst number-retiring in franchise history; that’s Billy Martin, and it’s not close. O’Neill is probably second worst — Maris had a virtually identical career WAR with the Yankees, in two fewer seasons with the club, but Maris won two MVPs with the Yankees and also set a significant single-season record that stood for a while.

Johnny Pesky is an interesting comp, but O’Neill’s career in New York is only remotely comparable to Pesky’s if you make no attempt to account for Pesky’s three years of military service.
 

EvilEmpire

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I think if O'Neill got his number retired based purely on his on field play, it would have happened during the 2015 season when Bernie, Pettitte and Posada had theirs. I think the 20ish years of broadcasting since he retired played a role too.
 

snowmanny

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Moose was not in O’Neill’s class as a hitter. Bailing out all the game. But occasionally he would one-hand a pitch to RF that would sneak inside the 296-foot foul pole. Moose was a better punter than Paulie. Punted for Purdue in his college days.
Skowron OPS+ for NYY 129
O’Neill OPS+ for NYY 125
 

mauf

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I think if O'Neill got his number retired based purely on his on field play, it would have happened during the 2015 season when Bernie, Pettitte and Posada had theirs. I think the 20ish years of broadcasting since he retired played a role too.
No question. Just as Pesky’s #6 would never have been considered for retirement if not for his decades with the team after his playing days. But Pesky was the better player of the two.

Elston Howard’s WAR with the Yankees was comparable to O’Neill’s (and Maris’s), but I assume Howard being the first Black player in franchise history played a major role in the decision to retire his number. Maybe that’s the best comp for O’Neill, in the sense that both were retired for contributions beyond what happened between the lines. Obviously, I think giving Howard extra credit is more of a no-brainer than giving similar credit to O’Neill.
 

Jason Bae

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How is Willie Randolph's number not retired? 54 WAR in 13 seasons as a Yankee and he served 11 seasons as a coach.
 

DennyDoyle'sBoil

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That was the last play of his career, too. Ouch.
In his defense: (1) it was a long throw and if you don't get it you potentially have the runner advance to third with one out, (2) if you botch the throw it could be awful, (3) you have Rivera on the mound with one out, and (4) Tony Fucking Womack?

Brosius is another one of those guys that as a Sox fan I kind of always grudgingly respected, like O'Neill, and didn't full on despise.

As the game of baseball matures and the numbers get used up and we are headed soon well into the second century of using numbers, there really ought to be a concept for recognizing guys like Brosius or O'Neill or Varitek or whomever without having to give the highest honor of saying "nobody can ever wear this number." Others have mentioned the football ring of honor concept and while pretty much nothing from football translates to baseball, something like that really would be a good thing.

Edit -- just re-read and realize that's going to come off like I'm comparing Brosius' Yankees career with Varitek's Red Sox career, which of course I'm not. And I'm not sure that his few years with the NYY even qualifies Brosius for any kind of recognition -- not my place to say. Just kind of using the discussion as a springboard for seconding the suggestion above about a ring of honor kind of concept.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Like it or not (I hate it), but i think the fact that the Yankees won so much over a relatively short period of time kind of diminishes the importance of individual players like O’Neill (or Tino Martinez, David Cone, Clemens, Wells, etc) who were around for much of that success but not all of it. But O’Neill was there when it all started which is important to his legacy and surely how Yankee fans remember him. There’s a reason why Pettitte is remembered more fondly than Clemens, right?

The Red Sox have the same kind of issue too, I think….a guy like Papelbon or Lester would probably be remembered differently if their careers started before 04, for example. People seem to love Foulke, but not Papelbon…I think there are iconic memories seared in our brains for some of these players but not others. A guy like Varitek would never even considered for any kind of significant team honor or recognition if his career ended in 2002, right? Ultimately, though, what Red Sox fans think about this is irreverent- it’s not for us, and looking at just the #s, it will never make sense…to us.
 

YTF

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The Red Sox have the same kind of issue too, I think….a guy like Papelbon or Lester would probably be remembered differently if their careers started before 04, for example. People seem to love Foulke, but not Papelbon…I think there are iconic memories seared in our brains for some of these players but not others. A guy like Varitek would never even considered for any kind of significant team honor or recognition if his career ended in 2002, right? Ultimately, though, what Red Sox fans think about this is irreverent- it’s not for us, and looking at just the #s, it will never make sense…to us.
Am I the only one not understanding this? Foulke was on the mound during one of the single greatest moments in franchise history, but people didn't love Papelbon? Home grown Jonathon Papalebon? Jonathon Papelbon who replaced Foulke in that same game four, World Series clinching moment three years later? Shipping Up To Boston Papelbon?
 

Sandwich Pick

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In his defense: (1) it was a long throw and if you don't get it you potentially have the runner advance to third with one out, (2) if you botch the throw it could be awful, (3) you have Rivera on the mound with one out, and (4) Tony Fucking Womack?
This is all absolutely fair. It just sucks that this play is literally the last thing he did in his career.
 

Petagine in a Bottle

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Am I the only one not understanding this? Foulke was on the mound during one of the single greatest moments in franchise history, but people didn't love Papelbon? Home grown Jonathon Papalebon? Jonathon Papelbon who replaced Foulke in that same game four, World Series clinching moment three years later? Shipping Up To Boston Papelbon?
I think that Foulke is a much more popular and revered player by SOSH members because he was on the 04 team, even though statistically, Papelbon was a superior pitcher. Maybe I’m wrong and that’s not true. But it’s primarily to suggest that comparing O’Neill’s stats to a similar player who wasn’t a key part of 4 WS championship teams is kind of missing the point.
 

Leather

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How is Willie Randolph's number not retired? 54 WAR in 13 seasons as a Yankee and he served 11 seasons as a coach.
Dunno. I said the same thing above. He received a plaque in the outfield on the same day Posada and Pettitte got their numbers retired which just seems very strange.
 

John Marzano Olympic Hero

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I think that Foulke is a much more popular and revered player by SOSH members because he was on the 04 team, even though statistically, Papelbon was a superior pitcher. Maybe I’m wrong and that’s not true. But it’s primarily to suggest that comparing O’Neill’s stats to a similar player who wasn’t a key part of 4 WS championship teams is kind of missing the point.
People were really down on Foulke the very year after he was lights out in the 04 postseason. Remember the "Johnny from Burger King" comment? I loved the guy--and Papelbon too for that matter--but I think think that you might be overestimating how much Sox fans like Keith Foulke. I mean, if you were to ask the average fan to name the members of the 04 Sox team, I bet he'd show up somewhere around tenth. And if you did the same for the 07 team, I bet Papelbon would rank higher.
 

jon abbey

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Randolph was maybe my favorite Yankee as a kid, I think old-school metrics led to him not being appreciated highly enough for his actual contrbutions and hence maybe why his number was not retired. He only got MVP votes twice (15th in 1980, 29th in 1978), although he did make five All-Star games. But he didn't hit homers, he didn't drive in runs, he never scored a hundred runs in a season...
 

terrynever

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I thought Willie changed that 1976 team. He was so smooth in the way infielders could be before muscles became popular. Willie seemed under control in all his movements. He had a grace about him, in the field and seemingly as a person. Outside of working for the Mets, he has led a good life.
 

RedOctober3829

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When the Yankees opened the season last week against the Red Sox on YES, one of its top analysts, Paul O’Neill, was noticeably absent.

On Monday night, O’Neill made his season debut on the Yankees-Blue Jays game, broadcasting from his home in Ohio while Michael Kay and David Cone were in the booth at Yankee Stadium.

It was awkward.

YES officially said O’Neill’s work-from-home setup was because the Yankees legend had “family issues,” which leads to the question:

If that is the full reason for O’Neill not traveling to The Bronx, then why did YES have him broadcast at all?

The larger issue involves O’Neill’s COVID-19 vaccine status. O’Neill is not vaccinated, according to sources.

If nothing changes, there is something even bigger than a broadcast that could be potentially impacted.

On Aug. 21, the Yankees are set to retire O’Neill’s No. 21 at Yankee Stadium. Even if unvaccinated, a ceremony probably could still happen, but it most likely would not include any current players and could be tamped down.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/12/unvaccinated-paul-oneill-called-yankees-game-from-home/
 

Red(s)HawksFan

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The only question in my mind is whether O'Neill is that good a color analyst to go to all that trouble to have him on the telecast. I've never heard him, so I really don't know. Would the broadcast really suffer that much having Kay and Cone do the games as a duo?
 

jon abbey

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The only question in my mind is whether O'Neill is that good a color analyst to go to all that trouble to have him on the telecast. I've never heard him, so I really don't know. Would the broadcast really suffer that much having Kay and Cone do the games as a duo?
Cone is much better than O'Neill, but O'Neill brings a hitter's perspective which is nice at times. The more relevant question is would YES just be better off with Maybin or Beltran (both of whom are doing games this year) actually at the games, and I'd go with yes.
 

RSN Diaspora

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Given the Yankees' history, it's difficult to judge the retired numbers since you could objectively make a case for just about any of them (Elston Howard might be a stretch), but O'Neill strikes me as harder to justify than any of the other retired numbers.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Yankee fans in the house—where do you like to sit? We haven't been in a while and often end up in RF bleachers or nosebleeds but that was pre-economic security. Paul was my wife's favorite player so I want to get seats for this, not breaking the bank but not necessarily scraping bottom-barrel.
 

Murderer's Crow

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Yankee fans in the house—where do you like to sit? We haven't been in a while and often end up in RF bleachers or nosebleeds but that was pre-economic security. Paul was my wife's favorite player so I want to get seats for this, not breaking the bank but not necessarily scraping bottom-barrel.
Do you want comfortable seats in a quieter section or do you want the loud fun part of the stadium? If it's the latter, RF or near it is the place to sit for me. If you want to enjoy your beer and hotdog and be a part of group chants, along the foul lines is a good spot. If you want a complete mix and no idea of what to expect, sit in the upper decks. You might be next to a class of 6th graders or 4 drunk people who moved from the very last row down into seats they dont belong.
 

Jed Zeppelin

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Do you want comfortable seats in a quieter section or do you want the loud fun part of the stadium? If it's the latter, RF or near it is the place to sit for me. If you want to enjoy your beer and hotdog and be a part of group chants, along the foul lines is a good spot. If you want a complete mix and no idea of what to expect, sit in the upper decks. You might be next to a class of 6th graders or 4 drunk people who moved from the very last row down into seats they dont belong.
Haha, this all checks out from my experience. I was thinking RF may be the place to be anyway for Paul O'Neill day anyway. The energy is great out there for sure—my mistake is that we've sat there for Sox/Yanks games and it was a little stressful, one was a Beckett/Burnett showdown that ended with an A-Rod bomb in the 14th or thereabouts. With no rooting interest however I'll be more inclined to enjoy the chaos.