Sick and Retired

Interesting article I recently came across (not literally) about the Cubs planning to retire No. 31 this summer as a tribute to Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins and future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux, both of whom wore No. 31 when pitching for the Cubs. In the meantime, they plan to take their time when it comes to Sammy Sosa, whose No. 21 is expected to be issued this year to Milton Bradley.

The article quotes Mark McGwire, the Cubs’ executive vice president for business operations:

“We’ve gotten into a situation where we’ve been really tough about retiring numbers. We actually have an in-house standard of people getting in the Hall of Fame before the organization would even consider retiring his number. There’s some discussion this year because of No. 31 and the unique status of Mr. Maddux and Fergie Jenkins that we may go ahead and do something this summer.

“With Sammy, time has a way of healing a lot of things, and we’ll just see how it works itself out. I don’t think we’ll be escalating our program in that regard.”

I have to say I applaud the Cubs’ rigid standards and suggest that Met fans unhappy about the number of of Mets to have their numbers retired direct their energies not toward making it up with players of the past but rooting for situations where a decision will be an easy one in the future.

I sometimes think the attention around No. 17 gets way out of hand, for instance. Keith knows how he’s got us by the nads and, I think, gets a kick out of tugging them from time to time. I’ve always been indifferent to whole idea of retiring his number, mainly because of the slippery slope that was the 1980s Mets (if you retire 17, so you must 16 and 18, and 8 and 1, and 47 and so on). Hernandez also didn’t fashion a career with the Mets exclusively (in fact may have had more success in a rival’s clothes) and hasn’t (yet) attained a place in the Hall of Fame (though I and a veteran’s committee might be convinced still of that).

17’s route to immortality will be, like 21 in Chicago, dependent some on how the future views Hernandez. His announcing gig — and forthcoming book — no doubt has his popular estimation on the rise and will continue to add to his lagacy, so I wouldn’t be strongly opposed when that day comes but know this: It hasn’t come yet. It’d be a no-brainer otherwise.

* * *

The Mets you have may have seen have inked gangly pitcher Freddy Garcia and outfielder/utilityman Rob Mackowiak to minor league deals and invited them both to spring training. The oft-injured and well-traveled Garcia has worn 34 everywhere he’s played: It will be interesting to see whether Mike Pelfrey has any attachment to it in the event Garcia makes the club. Macklowiak, who seems a threat to Marlon Anderson (lefty, multipurpose player, with a weak bat) will take what he’s given. He’s worn 59 in Pittsburgh, 10 with the White Sox and 12 with Washington.

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One comment

  1. Jon Springer says:

    Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 01/30/2009 – 1:43am.
    I couldn’t agree more about Hernandez. He came here midway through the ’83 season, had 4 good seasons from ’84-’87, and missed around half of ’88 and ’89. That’s not good enough on its own to get #17 retired.
    On the other hand, he’s an important enough figure in Mets history that if they want to give #17 the Willie Mays/#24 treatment, that would be fine with me.

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