Thursday, December 13, 2012


It’s amazing how passionate fans get about their favorite team. All it takes is a little smack talk, or just a crazy statement you don’t agree with and you can find yourself caught in the moment. Next, a  debate starts and things get really interesting. That happened to me yesterday. I was just sitting, keeping to myself and concentrating on my work and then this statement came out of left field….and I got sucked in. 

It is easy to have a debate about a player’s stats, because those can be backed up with facts. On the other hand, nostalgia or an opinion is all subjective. I found myself in a room full of baseball fans yesterday. The television was tuned to ESPN and on the ticker the news about Kevin Youkilis signing with the Yankees had everyone buzzing.

There were a few Red Sox fans in the room, and for the first few minutes, they were venting their frustrations. They couldn’t believe that Youkilis had crossed into “enemy” territory. Then, someone cracked a joke that quickly changed their mood for the better…and made me a little defensive. “Now batting for the Yankees… Number 20, Kevin Youkilis!” A man chuckled. I wanted to chime in….but I didn’t. Trust me, I wanted to scream…. because that number belongs to Jorge Posada! The man I watched for years behind the plate and admire so much. He was such a competitor and he was a good leader. He’s a legend in my mind and I miss his charisma. Nothing against Youkilis, but that number will always belong to Jorge and I just can’t see him, or ANY other player wearing it.

 I thought I did a good job hiding my reaction but I didn’t. I shook my head, and I did it without even realizing it until it caught the attention of some guys in the room. What’s the problem? they asked me. I told them exactly what I was thinking in my head. One guy laughed at me, and he replied with So what? It’s just a number! I can’t repress that reaction.

There are all kinds of numbers out there: lottery numbers, mathematics equations, our age…..I could go on and on. A number on the back of a Yankee jersey is not just ANY number. The numbers on those jerseys tell stories. They are tied to our memories, moments as sports fans we look back on and remember fondly. They are traditions we will pass down for many generations to come.
I reminded the guys who said “it’s just a number” that we are all too quick to forget about number 42. Jackie Robinson broke barriers for this sport. Because of his accomplishments both on and off of the field Major League Baseball honors him by retiring that number for the entire league. Once Mariano Rivera retires, we won’t see it anymore but what his number symbolizes will live on in history. Sure, they don’t see it the same way and they said that “this is different,” but last time I checked meaningless numbers were not retired.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not comparing Jorge and Jackie Robinson but a number on a jersey is more than just a form of identification. In my mind, number 20 belongs to Jorge. When I see that number I can’t associate that with anyone else. Some things are sacred for fans, and this is for me. Times change and players retire, but the memories stick with you.

--Jeana Bellezza, BYB Writer and Editor
Twitter: @NyPrincessJ

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