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.