Reader mailbag: Steinbrenner and Monument Park

Yogi Berra is the most obvious name among those with a plaque who could receive a monument after his passing. His resume is impeccable and while many people today see him as a cuddly old man, we must recognize just how great he was amongst all players, especially catchers, all time. Bill James’ Win Shares pegs Yogi as the #1 catcher of all time, and the 52nd best non-pitching player of all time. Of All Time. 

How about this list:

  • 18x All-Star selection (1948, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1959, 1960, 1960, 1961, 1961, 1962)
  • 13x World Series champion (1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962, 1969, 1977, 1978)
  • 3x AL MVP (1951, 1954, 1955)

Ten World Series rings as a player, plus three as a coach. Not to mention him being a wonderful ambassador for the game…

I think we’ll see a Yogi Berra monument not long after his passing. Heck, his plaque (to the right) calls him “A Legendary Yankee”!

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This brings me back to Mike’s question about Steinbrenner: Does his ownership legacy make him monument-worthy?

Both Larry and I wrote a bit about the yin/yang of George M. Steinbrenner upon his passing. How he could flip from magnanimous to gregarious to ruthless in a moment’s notice. He would be cruel to employees but generous beyond words to local charities. He managed to get suspended from baseball twice: derisively cheered by his hometown fans as they learned about the second suspension. Yet those same fans lifted the ill, aging Boss during his lap at the 2008 All Star Game.  He was good. He was evil. He made the Yankees relevant again by his tenacious “win at all costs” approach. But that approach forced others to step their games up, too.  And he paid for that approach in the form of revenue sharing and luxury tax payments. He owned the team as we all would like to be able to: throwing every resource into winning. He created the YES Network, the new business model replicated by many other teams and that created the next cash stream to fund the Empire.

Baseball history is littered with players and other personalities who have sketchy pasts. The Hall of Fame is not reserved for only the purest souls. It’s home to the best baseball men and women (unless you’ve signed a piece of paper acknowledging you’ve gambled on the game while in uniform and agreeing to a lifetime ban). I think eventually Steinbrenner will take his place in Cooperstown for his overall contributions to the game.

Does this mean, however, that The Boss should get a monument. We know he will, but should he? I’ve been thinking about this one for quite some time and I’ve come down on the “yes, he should” side, again due to his enormous contributions to the game, despite his wrongdoings. The Mick wasn’t a saint, either, though for different reasons. The Boss’ monument, if I were consulted, would take a piece of real estate far away from the other five, away from the 9/11 tribute. Have it stand by itself, like George did, different from the players, yet connected. The Yankees legacy would not be complete or as successful without The Boss and neither would Monument Park.

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Of course, that leads us to which players, past or present, could also be memorialized posthumously with a monument. I already mentioned that Yogi would be a worthwhile addition to the Monuments. And besides Yogi, there really are only two logical additions: Jeter and Mariano. 

There’s no doubt that eventually Jeter will have a monument dedicated to him. The Face of the Franchise for what will be about 20 years, owner of at least five World Series rings. First there will be a plaque and unless the team changes its policy towards the awarding of a monument, the monument will come some 50-60 years from now, upon his passing.

And that leaves the Mariano Rivera monument debate. Mo will be recognized as perhaps the greatest closer in baseball history, his post-season stats proof of his dominance when the games counted the most:

  ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 SO/BB
14 Seasons (29 Series) 0.74 88 70 39 133.1 82 13 11 2 21 4 107 501 0.773 5.5 0.1 5.10
  ERA G GF SV IP H R ER HR BB IBB SO BF WHIP H/9 HR/9 SO/BB
14 ALDS 0.35 34 27 16 51.1 24 3 2 1 6 2 42 185 0.584 4.2 0.2 7.00
8 ALCS 0.99 30 24 12 45.2 31 5 5 0 7 1 33 172 0.832 6.1 0.0 4.71
7 WS 0.99 24 19 11 36.1 27 5 4 1 8 1 32 144 0.963 6.7 0.2 4.00
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table; Generated 8/31/2010.

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So what’s your thoughts? The Boss? Yogi? Jeter? Mo?

@Jason_IIATMS

About @Jason_IIATMS

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18 thoughts on “Reader mailbag: Steinbrenner and Monument Park

  1. Brian R.

    I mean….  Yogi, Whitey Ford, Jeter, and Mariano are all in consideration

     

    I hope this isn't taken as a late 20 something fan slighting the old guys… but I would give it to Jeter and Mo and draw the line there.

     

    This is THEIR era of yankee baseball…  Yogi and Whitey were a part of the late DiMaggio and Mantle eras…

  2. Glenn G.

    I think what's really unfortunate is the fact that A-Rod doesn't belong in the conversation of monuments at Yankee stadium, yet by time his contract is up, he would of played in at least 10 seasons for the Yanks, he would be close or past the record for all-time home runs, and (hopefully) would have multiple rings all as a Yankee. 

    But it's all due to the steroids admission or the fact that he did take them. If he hadn't taken them, and was where he is (home run-wise) today, i think in 5 years we would of considered a monument for him. Or even today we would say 'Maybe one day we'll have a discussion about A-Rod,' but now that day will never happen. Actually in 5 years or so, or lets say the more milestones he hits, the more this steroids talk will intensify.

    Like i said, he doesn't deserve to be in it now, but he could of in a few years, but now it's never…

    …Very Unfortunate.

  3. Brian, I would just say that "era" really has nothing to do with it. The Yankees policy is to not erect a full monument until after the honoree has passed away, so at this point Yogi and Whitey are still, thankfully, ineligible as it were. And Jeter and Mo won't be getting monuments for another 50 years or so.

  4. Glenn, I don't think the steroids thing has much to do with A-Rod monument case. At least to me, there are two qualifications that have to be met to get a monument:

     

    1. They have to be a truly all-time great in ALL of baseball, not just in Yankee history. Guys like Mattingly and Ford get plaques and their number retired, but they don't make the cut for monument to me.

     

    2. They have to be THOROUGHLY Yankee in their baseball identity. This is where A-Rod and Reggie lose out; too much of their legacy/identity is wrapped up in other teams.

  5. Brian

    I have no strong feelings on Steinbrenner getting a monument.  His family still owns the team, so they're entitled.  It certainly isn't so strange a decision that it cheapens the other monuments.

    The question of who else gets one is more interesting. I think there are some unofficial criteria based on the monuments so far.  First, if it's a player, he's got to be in the Hall of Fame.  Second, he had to have played his whole career or nearly all of it (Ruth) with the Yankees.  Third, he is considered an all-time great at his position.

    With all due respect to Mattingly, he was great at his relatively short peak, but he was not a great player.  I think retiring his number was a stretch, and a monument should be out of the question.

    Yogi, Jeter, and Rivera and no doubts.  Ford belongs there, too.  He's the best pitcher in the franchise's history, and he meets the other three criteria.  (He's in the top 30 all time in ERA+.)

    Beyond that group, I think the most deserving person is Joe McCarthy, who was the Yankees' most successful manager ever.  But as he's been dead for 32 years and hasn't gotten one yet, I don't think that's going to happen.

  6. I recently wrote a blog post detailing the history of the monuments (http://tinyurl.com/22twj7r). One point I would definitely disagree with is the idea that Huggins doesn’t deserve a monument. He really was a significant figure in the game at the time of his passing, and an instrumental part of the Yankees orgainzation.

  7. Jason@IIATMS

    William: First of all, that’s an excellent posting and I recommend others check it out. But to me, no manager’s contributions are worthy of a monument. None.  Not Huggins, not anyone.

    But, you make good points so we’ll just have to agree to disagree about that one!

  8. To be clear, I don’t think Steinbrenner getting a monument is strange, I think he rather obviously deserves one frankly. I just thought the timing was a little odd. Or seemed so anyway.
     
    Beyond Steinbrenner, I think Yogi, Jeter, and Mo all deserve monuments of their own, and that’s it for now.

  9. Fair enough, but I would urge you to conisder that Huggins was much more than what we know as the modern day manager. He was more like a manager, co-GM, scout and instructor, and even had a hand in the business end. What’s more, Huggins was a big advocate of obtaining Ruth at the time, and without his urging, the deal might never have been made (remember, when the deal was made, there were some who thought Ruth was too much of a distraction). 

  10. HIM

    how about Jack Reed?

  11. Brian R.

    Sorry, I completely disrespected Mattingly..  he is in consideration to.
     
    Don’t think he should get it though.  Great Yankee but between the shortened career and not being a part of a championship team, can’t do it.
     
     

  12. Jason@IIATMS

    You just beat me to it, Brien.

    @Brian: Eras are irrelevant. Either they deserve it or not, on their own merit. There are no limits to “eras”

    Also, however much I love Mattingly, he’s not deserving of a monument. It’s not, as far as I know, a requirement, but a HOF selection should be mandatory for monument consideration.

    @Glenn: ARod’s exclusion has more to do with the fact that he’s not a career Yankee. He’ll have 10 years or so, but the majority of his best, epic, HOF-worthy years were pre-Yankees. This belief of mine has zero to do with PEDs, as a reason for exclusion.  True Ruth wasn’t a career Yankee, but the vast majority of his HOF-worthy stuff was as a Yankee.

  13. Brian R.

    Fair enough…  my point was more that the Yankees are going to want a player (or two) from this era to give a monument to because it’s such a unique era in baseball history with the wild card format and what not.
     
    Rivera is the greatest reliever ever and Jeter IMO will ultimately finish as anywhere between the 3rd and 6th greatest shortstop ever but they were right time, right place to a certain extent.
     
    Also, think you guys nailed it with Arod… it’s not personal but the Yankees simply aren’t giving a monument to a guy who is known as much for having a portrait of himself as a centaur in his bedroom as a Yankee player.

  14. Moose

    With regard to the Boss, the answer is simple: it’s The Golden Rule.  ”He who hath the gold, makes the rules.”  You got a problem with that, you can buy your own team, I guess.  I hear the Pirates are profitable….

  15. spinner

    I believe that Bob Shepard deserves a monument.

  16. Mike Nagle

    Fan or not, Steinbrenner changed the game.  His advocacy and endorsement of free agency forced other teams to follow suit and it won championships.  He changed the history of the game.
     
    I’m not sure that I agree with Brien though on players who have extensive history with other teams.  The game has changed and few players will have Mantle-like careers in one uniform. Likewise I can’t say that no manager deserves a monument.  The Brewers are even putting one up for Bud Selig?!?!
     
    Great players aren’t responsible for bad teams (see Mattingly) and based on William’s feedback the Yankees should have been a powerhouse during George’s most recent suspension.  I guess Dave LaPoint is absolved of NOT being a championship quality pitcher in that case.
     
    Mind you I don’t believe that Steinbrenner did was great for baseball or for the Yankees. I’m not even sure he deserves a monument but his family still owns the team.  During a time when “groups” dominate team ownership, the Steinbrenner family has stayed true to the fans and hopefully will hang on for as long as they are beneficial to the team.  Under George’s leadership the team was restored to the glory of a forgotten time.  Frankly had George NOT stepped up after acquiring the team from CBS there would have been no Reggie, no Mariano, no Jeter and no Goose Gossage either.
     
    Before Reggie wore pinstripes he wasn’t a legend.  If Jeter played in Detroit he might be as interesting as Omar Vizquel.  Bucky Dent’s homer… Thurman… Guidry…  Restoring the franchise to the spiritual allegiance of the fan following only seems incidental to those who fail to remember that when Steinbrenner took over it was the Mets who owned New York City.  That was of course before their ownership demolished the franchise.

  17. Joe from New Jersey

    You do realize that a requirement for having a Monument, not a plaque, a monument in Monument Park is that you have to be dead. Yogi Berra is still living, thus does not get a monument yet.

  18. Jason@IIATMS

    @Joe from NJ: I guess you missed that I typed this above:

    “I think we’ll see a Yogi Berra monument not long after his passing”

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