As of today I am an official member — and maybe the charter member — of the LaTroy Hawkins’ Fan Club.
No more ripping Hawkins and rooting for him to get bounced in favor of one of the young Yankee relievers currently at Scranton. No more lumping him in with Kyle Farnsworthless.
No, it’s not because of the two scoreless innings he pitched last night against Boston. Or the five consecutive scoreless appearances. Both of those help, but they aren’t the real reason.
The real reason is that LaTroy Hawkins has class. In fact, one helluva lot more class than many Yankee fans. He has shown that during the past couple of weeks.
If you follow the Yankees by now you know the story. Hawkins wanted jersey No. 21 — Paul O’Neill’s 21 — to honor Roberto Clemente. Yankee “fans” booed him unmercifully and chanted O’Neill’s name whenever Hawkins appeared on the mound.
Hawkins, who didn’t understand the furor finally relented and switched to No. 22. Reports from the beat writers detail how well Hawkins has handled this mess, and how much respect he already has as a veteran leader in the Yankee clubhouse.
My purpose here isn’t to debate whether or not O’Neill’s number should be retired. It clearly shouldn’t. O’Neill was a very good player, but far from one of the greatest to ever play. If you think otherwise, you are probably one of the people I am about to rip.
My real purpose here today is to call out those “fans” who booed Hawkins and chanted O’Neill’s name when Hawkins appeared on the mound.
See, I am a lifelong Yankee fan and, nowadays, the biggest problem with being a Yankee fan is being associated with that type of Yankee fan. The self-important, entitled, smarter than the GM/manager, moron Yankee fan. Basically, this is the a**hole Yankee fan.
This is the type of Yankee fan who thinks that baseball began in 1996, when the Yankees won their first of four World Series under Joe Torre. Who thinks that the rest of baseball exists as nothing more than a farm system for the Bombers. Who thinks that you can trade Kei Igawa straight up for, say, Jake Peavy. Who continually booed Alex Rodriguez, and will still boo him when he leaves runners on base. Who are classless enough to boo a guy and intentionally make him feel uncomfortable simply because of the number he wears. Who thinks a yearly playoff berth, and three or four World Series titles every decade, is a Yankee birthright.
I love the Yankees. I don’t, however, love being associated with you.