Baseball On My Brain

Take the names off the jerseys
June 30, 2008, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

Baseball can bring out the best in me; it can also bring out the worst.

Today, I’m focusing a bit more on the worst – particularly, my tendencies to be a bit hyper-critical of others. But it’s who I am, I’m working on getting better about it, and part of working on it is talking about it.

Your team, like mine, has jersey numbers that are considered basically untouchable. In Seattle, while they aren’t retired yet, the numbers 11 and 24 are more or less off-limits. Worn by Edgar Martinez and Ken Griffey, Jr., respectively, it’s pretty safe to say no Mariner will wear those again, at least not without special dispensation from the previous owners.

51 is also in the class of the untouchables; some thought only Randy Johnson would wear it, but after Ichiro came east and asked permission of the Big Unit, he has since made the number that much more cherished.

Now in Seattle, as I’m sure is the case in lots of other cities, you can get a Major League jersey customized with your own name and whatever number you like on it. Now as long as your selection falls within MLB’s guidelines for taste, you’re pretty much good to go.

They also have some rules about using a current or former player’s name and number on the jersey of another team. Heaven forbid we confuse anybody with an “Ichiro 51” Reds jersey.

Nevertheless, as I’m walking around the stadium tonight prior to the game, I see what I always see at least once a game – somebody rocking their name with one of the aforementioned untouchable numbers.

Nothing says cool like “Jones 51” or “Marshall 11.”

Here’s where I don’t care that it was your favorite number, or that you got it as a gift, or anything. Part of being a fan is respecting the players who made the numbers so cool in the first place and leaving them be.

If anything, it’s disappointing to me that a so-called baseball fan would do that. I’m all for having a jersey, and as much as I wouldn’t do it myself, I’m even OK with wearing the jersey of your favorite player. But for the love of the game, don’t pretend that you can co-op someone else’s number!

Now look – before you get all uppity with me about this, I get that you may have had the jersey before that player got here. But most of you didn’t. You just went to the store thinking you could get away with wearing someone else’s jersey, hoping that the guy at the counter would say anything. Now you think you’re hot because you’re sporting one the most revered numbers in the city.

Which leads me to the following statement – which prior to tonight I had never felt so definitive about: it’s time to get rid of names on jerseys.

Think about a Yankees jersey with a 3 on the back of it. You know it’s only about one guy. No one’s going to put “MacFarlane” on the back of that one.

Let’s get rid of the names on jerseys – between the graphics on TV and the widespread availability of programs at stadiums, rosters on the internet, and lots of stadiums having scoreboards that tell you who is on the field and where they’re playing, in addition to what number they’re wearing, it’s time to move on.

Take the names off the jerseys.


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