No team in sports talks more about their history than the New York Yankees; and that is why the decision to honor Tino Martinez and Paul O'Neill with plaques in Yankee Stadium is so puzzling. Honoring Martinez and O'Neill is an affront to Yankee history for two reasons. First, the absence of Bernie Williams' name in that group is a noticeable slight. Wiliams will get a plaque next year, but making him wait a year while two inferior players who spent less time on the Yankees get their plaques this year is, at best, puzzling.
The question of whether or not Posada is one of the twenty greatest Yankees will have to be left to future, and longer, subway rides, but his place in the top 25 is reasonably secure. The same ambiguity around Posada’s place in Yankee history will probably surround his Hall of Fame candidacy, but there is no ambiguity around his role in the last four Yankee championships. If game five of the LDS was indeed Posada’s last game, he will be missed by all Yankee fans, whether hunched over their computers looking at numbers or cursing A-Rod while semi-conscious on the subway.
Piniella is a baseball lifer who was a good, but not great player and a great, if controversial, manager, who has been associated with an impressive range of baseball moments and people. He played alongside Harvey Haddix a few years after his 12 inning perfect game loss, and Don Mattingly as he was becoming one of baseball’s top hitters. Piniella, who later earned a reputation for being a fiery and excitable manager himself, played for Billy Martin during his first three stints as Yankee manager. Sweet Lou made a cameo in one of the best baseball books ever written, Jim Bouton’s Ball Four, and made a game saving, of often overlooked, play in the outfield preserving a Yankee victory in one of the most famous baseball games ever played, the one game playoff between the Yankees and Red Sox in 1978. He played for two expansion teams in the same year, including one that does not exist anymore, and two World Series winners.