I Am Temporarily Embarrassed To Be A Yankee Fan

During tonight’s Yankees-Rays game, LaTroy Hawkins got shelled. This is fine. Not a big deal. But then what chant do I hear, faintly echoing throughout Yankee Stadium, burgeoning in volume and vigor?

“PAUL O’NEILL (clap clap clap-clap-clap), PAUL O’NEILL (clap clap clap-clap-clap)”

For the unaware, LaTroy Hawkins chose to wear the number 21 as a Yankee. He did this to honor Roberto Clemente. Paul O’Neill also wore number 21 as a Yankee. For some ignorant, unbelievable, embarrassing, mouth-breathing, despicable reason, certain Yankee fans think that Hawkins has committed a crime against all that is good and righteous about “True Yankeedom” by choosing to wear O’Neill’s number.

This is unbearably stupid for several reasons. Firstly, Paul O’Neill is not a Hall of Famer. His number is not retired. His number should not be retired. Hawkins’ wearing number 21 is not an affront to Paul O’Neill, the Yankees, or the game of baseball. Secondly, he chose it to honor Roberto Clemente. If you don’t think this is even remotely understandable, you need to jump off your nearest bridge.

Lastly, what on Earth is chanting Paul O’Neill’s name during an emerging blowout going to do to help anything? Is LaTroy Hawkins going to say “yes, this chant will improve my break and location. Thanks guys!”? Will this chant magically summon the ghost of the currently alive Paul O’Neill, which will subsequently invade the body of LaTroy Hawkins, and start hurling 38 mph fastballs that bounce eight feet in front of home plate? Do Paul O’Neill’s four World Series rings with the Yankees somehow qualify him to pitch? Would Paul O’Neill have struck out the side on four pitches? If Hawkins changes his number, will he suddenly turn into Dennis Eckersley circa 1990? In short, what is this doing to improve the situation?

I am honestly embarrassed to be a Yankee fan, because there is no question that a certain number of casual, new or neutral fans heard that chant tonight and concluded that all Yankee fans are ignoramuses. That chant was, without question, the dumbest thing I have ever heard in my young life.

I blame the Jersey, Westchester and Long Island fans for this.


5 Responses to I Am Temporarily Embarrassed To Be A Yankee Fan

  1. Jason Hanson says:

    You really don’t get it. In NY #23 is Donny Baseball, NOT Mchael Jordon. #42 is Mariano Rivera NOT Hank Aaron and #21 will always always ALWAYS belong to O’Neill, the heart and soul of the dynasty and if you don’t get that you should rewatch game 5 of the 2001 WS.

    You just don’t get it. You never will. Mattingly’s not a HOF either…but in NYC he is beloved. One day #21 will be retired. Until then, respect that it’s O’Neill’s. don’t wear it!

  2. Keesup says:

    Well, first of all, Hank Aaron was 44; 42 was worn by Jackie Robinson, whose importance to the game will always eclipse that of invidual Yankees, hence the fact that no one gets to wear 42 ever again.

    Second, you can’t compare numbers across sports. That’s like a NASCAR fan not recognizing Babe Ruth as 3 because the #3 car was driven by DALE FUCKING EARNHARDT (RIP).

    You think 21 should be retired by the Yankees. That’s a valid position, though I think the Yankees should be more stingy with the number retirement thing or else they’ll run out before the end of the century. It’s clear Paul O’Neill is far from Cooperstown; it’s not clear the Yankees plan to retire his number. Until a number is retired, anyone can wear it. The only weird exception I can think of is keeping 25 on the bench in St. Louis and San Francisco until the cases of Bonds and McGwire are sorted out; and once they make the HoF as they should then officially retire the numbers.

    I agree with Special K that the chanting was rude and pointless. Fans need to understand that players don’t really care about this kind of stuff. Yankees and Red Sox don’t get all worked up when they see each other’s uniforms; the 2008 Cubs aren’t thinking about the 100-year drought. Would you rather have Dave Eiland work with Hawkins on pitching, or make all incoming pitchers read “The Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty” so they can see that Paul O’Neill was a man who threw stuff when he couldn’t hit and was therefore the greatest Yankee of all time and they’ll know not to wear 21?

    I guess this whole response was pointless since we “just don’t get it,” a stunning argument that renders moot anything we say.

  3. Special K says:

    There are only two things I would like to mention, since Keesup tackled pretty much everything else:

    1) I generally dislike it when we say that such and such number “is” a certain player. But there are cases where I think it’s valid, and #42 is one of them. #42 is NOT Mariano Rivera. As Keesup said, this Jackie Robinson guy is and was kind of a big deal. The fact that you either consciously ignored or outright didn’t know this pretty much prevents me from taking seriously anything you say.

    2) I hate to play the geography card, but saying “you don’t get it” is pretty dumb. I wouldn’t have felt comfortable writing the original post if I didn’t feel some familiarity with the subject. I do feel familiar with it. This is because I am from Manhattan, and have spent 18 of my 21 years “getting it.” I know about all the adulation and lore surrounding those teams, because I participated in it. But I also grew up, and I think the Yankee fans who clutch desperately to the dynasty years and ascribe mystical and legendary qualities to players like O’Neill and Scott Brosius need to grow up too.

  4. scribblerist says:


  5. Bigger says:

    you know, it’s really very simple. i’m speaking as a lifelong yankee fan, and i can say that i, and most other yankee fans, especially those of us familiar with the mid 90s to early 00’s do love paul o’neill. we love him, he holds a dear place in our hearts for a number of reasons, any yankee fan knows them so i will not bother to list them. not only that, but he is still very visible in the yankee organization, he provides commentary for yankee games today, so we can continue to love him. because of this, we hold his number sacred. in new york yankees lore, it is his number,, its symbolic of him and his warrior attitude, its also an effigy of their late 90’s success, as a number on the back of a yankee uniform, it is special. anyone on the knicks can wear 21, i dont care- giants, jets, nets, mets, that doesnt matter, it only matters in the context of a yankee wearing the number 21. the paul o’neill chant, in my opinion had nothing to do with “paul o’neill would pitch better” it was yankee fans using their opportunity with Hawkins in the game to voice their opinion. we want him to turn in the number. it has nothing to do with living in the past, it has to do with commemorating a man and his accomplishments. do you think a better time would have been in a game when he turned in a better performance? well, who the hell knows how long before that will happen? the bottom line is that most of us yankee fans do feel that that number is something holy in yankee lore, even if the rest of baseball doesnt. we have always been know to give players a hard time if they dont perform, thats just how it is, now on top of that, hawkins was wearing a number that we felt he didnt earn, that number is too fresh in our memory, and has too big a place in my left ventricle. i would like to provide you with a quote before i depart. “I figure if it’s important enough for Jeter and Mariano and some other veterans to ask me about it, it’s not worth it to keep wearing the number” thats what hawkins told the media after he announced that he was giving up the number 21. i think it was a classy move to give up the number, after all his salary comes from the fans, he makes his fortune entertaining fans, so why agitate us? thanks.

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