As a professional athlete, nothing should come ahead of winning. Absolutely nothing. Over the years, some athletes have mistaken their own identity and have made it about the money they believe they should be paid. Those athletes are a disgrace, but that’s not the point. When an athlete retires, the next notch on their belt that they want is to be inducted into their sports’ Hall of Fame, an honor few earn during the course of their respective careers. Some players only get inducted into their specific teams’ Hall of Fame, which is nothing to snuff at either. And some players leave enough of a lasting impression to the point where they get their number retired for the organization for which they played . Again, yet another prestigious honor. But none of these honors should be campaigned for..ever. You only look like a whiney, self-indulgent clown when you beg and cry for the recognition you think you deserve, yet here comes Wade Boggs bitching and moaning because the Boston Red Sox have never retired his number. I have two words for you Boggs, “Shut. Up.”
While I am a proud member of Red Sox Nation, this is not the first time I have ripped an athete because they begged for recognition. Last summer I took offense to Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s public plea to have a statue built in Los Angeles just because Bill Russell was getting one in Boston. While Boggs isn’t taking it to that extent, he still needs to calm it down a few levels. Per the Boston Red Sox, “The Red Sox policy on retiring uniform numbers is based on the following criteria: Election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame; At least 10 years played with the Red Sox.” That’s it. While Boggs meets both of those qualifications, I don’t see anywhere that says the Sox have to retire the number just because the qualifications are met. Hell, does everyone with a college degree have a job in their field just because the meet the qualifications? Absolutely not.
Furthermore, what about the players who don’t reach those qualifications but were better in Boston than Boggs? Pedro Martinez has the highest winning percentage of any pitcher to ever make 100 starts with one team, a feat he accomplished with the Red Sox over a six year time frame. Martinez also won a championship in Boston, something Boggs was never able to accomplish. Not that it was his fault, but don’t go riding around Yankee Stadium on a police horse after you win a title with the rival New York Yankees when you do finally win a World Series and expect for your number to get retired in Boston some day. Hell, the Yankees retire numbers like they want to start wearing triple digits and I don’t see you complaining that your number isn’t hanging in the Bronx.
“But what about Carlton Fisk? He didn’t finish his career with the Red Sox and his number is retired at Fenway Park. Why does he get a pass? He was on the White Sox for 13 years.” Listen, anyone who wants to bring that arguement to the table needs to riase their hand from now on when they want to say something. That’s perhaps the most moronic counter-arguement as to why Boggs should have his number retired by the Sox. Fisk hit one of the most iconic home runs in the history of baseball during Game 6 the 1975 World Series and played for the Red Sox for 11 years. While Fisk played more seasons in Chicago than he did in Boston, he still went into the Hall with a Red Sox hat on his bust. Arguing pro-Boggs and using the greatest catcher in the history of the franchise as an example is purely asinine. Fisk deserved his number retired and alst I checked he didn’t ask for it either.
If you want to argue pro-Boggs, point to Roger Clemens. Now, some Sox fans believe Clemens was the best pitcher the Red Sox have ever had. Those people are absolute fools, but I digress. Clemens was a dominant pitcher during his tenure with the Red Sox. When he hit free agency in the ’90s he told reporters that he wanted to be closer to his family in Texas. What closer to Texas than Toronto? How about New York? Yes, Clemens and his juiced up right arm waited a short seven years before he traded in his pinstripes to pitch for the Houston Astros but during that time he found a way to rack up his 300th win and his 3,000th strikeout, both as a member of the Yankees. Yet, he is the last member of the Red Sox to wear #21 while the likes of Scott Podsednik continue to wear Boggs’ #26. Josh Beckett wore #21 in homage to Clemens as a member of the Florida Marlins but switched to #19 when he was acquired by the Red Sox. While Clemens’ #21 will never officially be retired in Boston it is strange that he is somehow above Boggs in Red Sox lure. Was he a better player than Boggs? Absolutely, but both spurned the Sox in similar fashions and won titles for their biggest rival. They should be treated in the same mannor as well.
But back to Boggs. After a massive public falling out with pitcher Dennis Oil Can Boyd earlier this year, this does not exactly seem like the time for Boggs to start complaining to be remembered in Boston. If anything, he should want as little association with a town considered as racist as Boston is considered if he truly wanted to clear his name. Sure, Boston is not currently as racist as people would like to believe, but the stigma is there. Did Boggs think his racial tirade with Boyd would be forgotten quickly? I’m not trying to condem Boggs or take sides with Boyd, but to come out and adamently defend yourself against those accusations only to turn around and demand to be admired in a city which hasn’t handled racism well historically, what exactly does that say about you? I worked the 100th Anniversary celebration at Fenway Park. I saw Oil Can Boyd there. I saw Dennis Eckersley, Pedro Martinez, Lou Merloni, Kevin Millar… I did not happen to catch Boggs. Clemens either, for that matter. Why they are remembered and treated so differently is something I suppose I will never understand.
If the number on the back of the jersey was more important to you than the team on the front, that’s your prerogative Boggs. Should your number be retired at Fenway Park, personally I don’t think so. When I look up at the right field fascad and see those numbers I think of the all time greats: Teddy Ball Game, Yaz, Doerr, Pesky, Cronin, Fisk, Rice, and of course Jackie Robinson. The Sox are not the Yankees. We don’t just hang up jerseys for the hell of it. I mean, think about the players who will soon get their numbers retired for the Bombers: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera (even though he shares the same number as Robinson, he will have a special bust in center field), and hell, at this rate it wouldn’t surprise me if Robinson Cano got his number retired by the Yankees either. Who knows, maybe Curtis Granderson continues his home run prowess and sneaks in. That’s potentially seven more numbers that could never be worn again. The Celtics don’t have as many retired numbers as the Yankees and they’re about to be completely done with 00-9, 10-19, 20-25, and 30-35. In about 30 years, it wouldn’t surprise me if the lowest numbered Celtic wore 26. Hell, maybe then Boggs will bitch and moan about that, too. This goes out to all athletes. I don’t care if you’re the all time leading scorer in NBA history or a quality third baseman in the MLB, be grateful for what you earn. A World Series title and a Hall of Fame induction aren’t small accomplishments but apparently they’re not enough for this particular attention whore.