I think some of this comes down to not quite knowing just what it is. Rob calls it a “plaque,” and that’s true enough in a literal sense, but in terms of the symbolic meaning of Monument Park, it’s not really accurate. That is to say, it’s not meant to be a plaque in the way that Reggie Jackson and Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford and Bob Sheppard have plaques. It’s much closer to the stone monuments reserved for the greatest Yankees, and dedicated only after that person’s passing. Of course, it’s bigger than those too. It’s also different than those, and while it wasn’t what I was expecting, I think I’m ok with that. The bottom line is that Steinbrenner was different than those guys, in that he wasn’t a player or a manager. So giving him his own monument, in a distinct style, is a sort of fitting tribute. And at the end of the day, that’s probably what this is; not really a monument, certainly not a plaque, but a tribute. It’s ok if you don’t like it, but it would be nice if some of the national “debate” over it would acknowledge a bit more that there are people, Yankees fans, that do like it.
And that’s what is sort of getting under my skin a little bit. At this point, just about every team has some variation on their own centric Hall of Fame, and I’m sure that if I went through them all, they’ve probably all got one or two members who don’t objectively belong there, and I’d probably get a good laugh at the thought that someone thought they deserved that recognition. But I’m not at all compelled to go looking for any examples of that, because those honors and those memories aren’t about me. They’re about the fans of those teams.
I realize that Monument Park is more high profile than the Rangers Hall of Fame, and certainly more prominent in baseball lore, but to a very large degree, Monument Park is still primarily a place for fans of the New York Yankees baseball club. A place for us to remember the former players we loved to watch, the players we didn’t watch but have heard so much about, and to immortalize the best, most beloved members in the history of (in our opinion) the greatest franchise in the history of professional sports. It’s certainly ok for non-Yankee fans to have opinions about Monument Park, I just wish there was a little bit more respect paid to the fact that those people are outsiders, such as it were, and that, while they’re certainly entitled to whatever opinion they may hold, it’s not their place.