Sunday, February 22, 2015


Names are our first identifiers. Before you are in born, your parents choose a name for you as a way to give you a solid identity. You go from "the baby" to "John" or "Emily" or whatever your name may be. They agonize over what to call you. No one wants a name that is too common. They want their little ones to be their own person. Sitting in a classroom at five with 6 other people that share your first name is a nightmare for parents. Don't ask me why, but it is. On the other hand, we don't want to give you a name that is too unique, if that makes sense.

I digress. Names are how we identify a person, or a group of people. Could you think of how different our fandom would be if instead of the Yankees they were named the Minions? Okay, maybe that is a far fetched thought. But what if they never changed their name from the Highlanders to the Yankees? It would have completely changed the face of the organization. Our beloved interlocking NY logo that has become so iconic, wouldn't work as well. You know what I mean.

Recently the Yankees announced that they are retiring Bernie Williams' number. Something that most of us can agree is long over due. I grew up in the Bernie and Core Four Era. My fandom was built around him, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada. I couldn't have asked for a better time to grow up in baseball. Legends like those come once in a lifetime, and I am grateful it was my lifetime.

With the announcement of the retirement of his number, the question came up again. You know the one... why is it Core Four? Why is Bernie forgotten? It's a legitimate question from fans that adore and respect what Bernie brought to the team. There is no denying his role in our Dynasty era. Without his contributions, there is no doubt that having reached that many Championships would not have seemed so effortless for the team. But here's the thing, and the following is a wildly unpopular opinion... he's not part of the Core Four. If you continued reading past that last line, and aren't angry at me, let me explain...

Names... they have meaning, right? They are given for a reason. I mean, we wouldn't call Jorge "The Warrior," would we? That is the name given exclusively to Paul O'Neill. And could you imagine the response if anyone else got called The Sandman? What if we start calling our line-up "Murderers Row"? I'm sure a few older fans would have a hard time with that.  A few years ago Michael Kay and Al Leiter called Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau the "M&M Boys." How could they? That's sacred! It was strange and even made BYB writer Jeana Bellezza cringe. You can read that HERE.

While in this case, adding Bernie to the equation would make the legacy better, it still doesn't fit. The "Core Four" is a name given to Mo, Jorge, Jeter, and Andy because they came up in the farm system together. They were key changes made to the team that helped pushed them into the team that dominated in the late 90's. And while, again, Bernie played a huge role in those championships, he didn't come up with them. Plain and simple.

We don't get up in arms about Paulie not being thrown in there. He's our Warrior, and we're okay with that. But did he not contribute to the championship teams? What about Tino Martinez? Or is it different because Bernie was home grown, and played his entire career here? Because then we could argue that Andy's three season in Houston should ban him from being part of the Core Four. You wounded us, Andy. Deeply. Okay, maybe just me... anyway, I've forgiven him.

Here's my thought; Bernie is his own separate entity. He hasn't been forgotten, obviously! If we are still asking why he isn't part of the "Core Four," the memory of his contributions are still alive and well to us all.  There is so much respect and love for Bernie from Yankee fans. It's incredible to see the organization finally do the right thing by him. His retirement ceremony brings a sense of happiness to fans. It's the right thing to do. We've known it for years, we've just been waiting for the Yankees to acknowledge it as well.  But, why can't he be a stand alone player? Why the push to recreate the Core Four? The Fab Five?  I ask you... why?

I absolutely adore Bernie Williams. There will never be another like him. He deserves the honor of being in Monument Park. He gave everything to the organization, and instead of heading off to another team to play, decided he'd rather not play if not in the Bronx. I have a huge amount of respect for him as a player and as a man. And I think he led a career that he is strong enough to stand as his own memorable entity.

Lou Gehrig once remarked that because he hit after Babe Ruth, he was forgettable, and still he is one of the most celebrated Yankees of all time. Why then do we feel the need to shove Bernie into a box in order to preserve his memory?

It was the Core Four, and the incredible Bernie Williams! That's how I see it. 

Congrats, Bernie! It's long overdue.

--Erica Morales BYB Senior Writer 
Twitter: @e_morales1804

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