April 16, 2008
Then they asked the Pope if His Holiness wouldn't mind watching where he drives on the green shag rug at old Yankee Stadium.
Now America's leading franchise has made it a weekly hat trick of borderline insane news stories with the revelation that some vocal and obnoxious Yankee fans have finally broken the will of reliever LaTroy Hawkins.
After being routinely booed for wearing Paul O'Neill's old No. 21, Hawkins is finally crying uncle and switching to No. 22 for tonight's game against Boston.
Though the Yankees have not retired No. 21, O'Neill was the last to wear it, and New York fans still consider the former outfielder — and, obviously, his number — sacred. It reached the point on the club's last homestand that, while Hawkins pitched, the fans chanted O'Neill's name.
Hawkins made the decision to change after talking to Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera; both said it wasn't worth the headache that it has been causing in the Bronx. Fortunately for the name of team chemistry, Hawkins made an admired decision to listen to his team leaders.
But it really shouldn't have even come to the point where Hawkins was goaded into giving up the number, which he was wearing as a tribute to Roberto Clemente.
Yes, O'Neill was a key leader and an extremely popular member of that World Series run. He embodies the "Yankees Way" and the team hasn't won a championship since his retirement.
But c'mon, it's still Paul O'Neill, a player who will always have to buy a ticket to Cooperstown just like the rest of us. If Yankee fans don't want anyone wearing that number, then they should go ahead and officially retire it. However, I suspect that even they know how silly that would be.
Look, you made your point, Yankees fans. You really like Paul O'Neill, an above-average
first basemanright fielder with a lot of great qualities everyone would want in a baseball player.
But give LaTroy his number back already, would you?