Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Celebrating Jackie Robinson Day

It was a good win for the Yankees tonight, and it felt good putting the Rays back in their place with a mini-sweep. Every year people love to say 'Watch out for the Rays. All those young players are bound to figure out how to play soon.' Each year, of course, they lack pitching and fall straight to the bottom, but this year they really do feel really close. They're going to be tough when Kazmir comes back.

I digress. Jackie Robinson Day is a great day for baseball. Though they have had their problems connecting with black youth in the past couple of decades, the contributions of African Americans have had a profound effect on the game. That doesn't even consider the role other minority groups played thanks to Jackie breaking down a wall of ignorance. I just have one problem with how Jackie is honored on the anniversary of his MLB debut. The wearing of his number.

Everyone who knows anything about baseball knows that Jackie's number 42 was retired across the board for every team on the 50th anniversary of the historic day. Then Ken Griffey Jr. requested to be allowed to wear the number in 2007. Commissioner Selig approved and encouraged others to wear it. Now many will argue that having whole teams or just four or five players on a team wearing it will cheapen the meaning of having it retired. Torii Hunter remarked to USA Today last season, "This is supposed to be an honor, and just a handful of guys wearing the number. Now you've got entire teams doing it. I think we're killing the meaning."

I respect Hunter's opinion and support it to a degree, but I think the better option would be to mandate everyone wearing it for the day. The number should not be arbitrarily passed out to only those who care enough to wear it. Everyone should don a piece of history for one day, to make sure it is an omnipresent thought at least for that one day of the season. I say everyone or no one is the way to go. And I definitely don't think just the Dodgers should get to wear the number. Something like that sort of portrays them as them as the moral bench mark in the baseball world and I just don't buy that.

Anyway that's enough ranting for right now. I'll have some thoughts about Yankees-Red Sox Part Deux tomorrow.

1 comment:

Dennis said...

Well, several teams voted and chose one player (Prince Fielder, Ray Durham) to wear the number. I like that, the members of the team vote for the player that most embodies the spirit of Jackie Robinson and that player, representing the whole team, wears number 42.