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Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Ortiz: With too many retired numbers, Astros should reintroduce numbers

Take Umbricht people, take Umbricht.

Larry Dierker also points out that the Astros standards weren’t very high when deciding which numbers to retire, so one must wonder if it’s time to reintroduce some of those numbers.

As far as Dierker is concerned, Oswalt and Berkman did enough during their Astros tenure to surpass the franchise’s previous standards for having their jerseys retired. As candid as ever, however, Dierker admits that the previous standard hadn’t been very high.

Some make valid arguments that J.R. Richard’s No. 50 should be retired by the Astros, but I disagree. Moreover, I will argue that the Astros should actually reintroduce some of the retired numbers and find different ways to honor Don Wilson, Jim Umbricht and perhaps even Jimmy Wynn.

“If they retired my jersey (No. 49), they got to retire Roy’s,” Dierker said. “If they retired Jimmy Wynn’s, they got to retire Lance’s. That’s one of the issues that we have here is that I think they jumped the gun when Jim Umbricht died and Don Wilson died.

“And all of a sudden we have some retired numbers but we weren’t producing any Hall of Famers. Usually if you have your number retired by a team, you’re in the Hall of Fame. But we kind of set a precedent that now J.R. Richard, Joe Niekro, there are a whole bunch of guys that you could make an argument for based on the guys that are already retired. (Jeff) Bagwell and (Craig) Biggio are obvious.”

...Wynn spent 11 years with the Astros from 1963 through 1973, leading the team in homers, hits and RBIs when he left Houston. Bagwell is the franchise leader in home runs with 449, and Biggio is in the exclusive 3,000-hit club. He is the Astros’ all-time leader in hits (3,060), runs (1,844), games (2,850), seasons (20). The seven-time All-Star made 19 opening day starts.

“I think Bagwell and Biggio probably with what they did, their numbers would be retired by any team,” Dierker said. “And Jose Cruz, he was special. I think that one was legit. I think if you add the success we had when I managed to what I did pitching, I might get to that point without being a Hall of Fame player.

“But for me, the rest of them I don’t think they’d be retired for most teams. So now we have a whole bunch of other guys that really deserve to have their numbers retired and we’re going to run out of numbers. You wouldn’t think in a franchise that hasn’t been exactly the Yankees that you’d get yourself in that position. But that’s kind of where we are right now. But as far as I’m concerned as far as this goes (Saturday night), if some of the guys have their numbers retired up there have them retired, these two guys should definitely have them retired.”

Repoz Posted: April 08, 2014 at 07:51 PM | 44 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:06 PM (#4682380)
So now we have a whole bunch of other guys that really deserve to have their numbers retired and we’re going to run out of numbers.

No you're not. That's the thing with numbers. There's always more.
   2. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:10 PM (#4682384)
You wouldn’t think in a franchise that hasn’t been exactly the Yankees that you’d get yourself in that position.


That's all right, the Yankees are hell-bent on getting into that same position, only in reverse.
   3. AROM Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:15 PM (#4682388)
Angels seem to have seen this coming and stopped retiring numbers. Fregosi, Carew, And Ryan are the players, plus owner Gene Autry and coach Jimmie Reese. Plus of course the universal #42.

If Fregosi, why not Downing? If Carew (at least for the Angel portion of his career), why not Salmon or Vlad?

They might eventually retire Vlad's #27, but if so it will have someone else's name on it.
   4. AROM Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:17 PM (#4682391)
Always more, if you are willing to go to 3 digits. Baseball has not seemed willing to go there, even in spring training.
   5. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:21 PM (#4682394)
Fair enough. Let's go to hex then. "Boy, that 3f, he really gets it up there in a hurry".
   6. JE (Jason) Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:31 PM (#4682400)
You wouldn’t think in a franchise that hasn’t been exactly the Yankees that you’d get yourself in that position.

Not only does this franchise not have a winning tradition, it's only been around 52 years.
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:41 PM (#4682408)
I think the Astros made a mistake early in their franchise and retired too many numbers, but I abhor the argument to unretire a number, it just seems crass. They are not going to run out of numbers, just need to be more frugal with when they retire numbers going forward.


If Fregosi, why not Downing? If Carew (at least for the Angel portion of his career), why not Salmon or Vlad?


Isn't the tie breaker, being in the hof? I think any player with significant time with a team who goes into the hof, should be considered as a valid candidate for the hof, even if his time with the franchise isn't the years that put him in. Is that an automatic? No, but it should weigh pretty heavily on it.

There is more than 'value' to a team for a retired number though. I don't think anyone in St Louis would complain if Willie McGee got his uniform number retired, and nobody is arguing he was better than Edmonds or even Lankford, just that he was more beloved.

Fair enough. Let's go to hex then. "Boy, that 3f, he really gets it up there in a hurry".


That would be pretty funny....

They might eventually retire Vlad's #27, but if so it will have someone else's name on it.


And that is weird. I imagine most teams do a pretty good job of unofficially retiring a uniform number for a guy who might eventually earn the honor later on down the road.
   8. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 08, 2014 at 08:44 PM (#4682410)
Obviously at any given time you only need 25 numbers. A few more for guys on the DL. How do clubs manage numbers for minor leaguers? They must have some system to reserve numbers when a guy is sent down. Like Trout comes up and plays in September but doesn't make the team out of spring training. I'm assuming they don't assign his number from last September to the 4th reliever in the bullpen. There's clearly enough to go around but someone probably has to keep track of it, right? "What number can we give Joe Gascan?" "Well, 18 was last used by Bobby Fumblehands 3 years ago when he was up for 2 weeks when the SS was out. He's still in AAA but I guess he's probably not coming up in the next 2 weeks." "What about Gary Freepass? He was up 2 years ago and had number 29, but now Donny Holeinswing has that one."
   9. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:03 PM (#4682436)
Always more, if you are willing to go to 3 digits. Baseball has not seemed willing to go there, even in spring training.


It's already being done, in Japan.
   10. The District Attorney Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4682443)
"What number can we give Joe Gascan?" "Well, 18 was last used by Bobby Fumblehands 3 years ago when he was up for 2 weeks when the SS was out. He's still in AAA but I guess he's probably not coming up in the next 2 weeks." "What about Gary Freepass? He was up 2 years ago and had number 29, but now Donny Holeinswing has that one."
I appreciate that you used real Astros minor leaguers from the Ed Wade era to illustrate this concept.

The Astros have retired too many numbers for my taste (which is admittedly an entirely subjective question). But I -- and, I'd imagine, most everyone else -- don't think it's an option to "un-retire" somebody's number. (Which, even if Ortiz tries to call it something different like "reintroducing", is what he's suggesting here.)

It's much like suggesting kicking George Kelly, Lloyd Waner, etc. out of the Hall of Fame. You could make a new Hall of Fame without them, if you want. But (absent an O.J.-like situation) you can't rescind the honor that they were freely and fairly given.

For most other teams, the Team Hall/Wall of Fame serves the purpose for which the Astros seem to have been retiring numbers. (Again, there's no commandment decreeing a retired number is inherently more of an honor than the team Hall of Fame, but that is how most franchises do it.)
   11. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:24 PM (#4682458)
They must have some system to reserve numbers when a guy is sent down.

It's not unusual for teams to re-issue the number of a player sent down, especially if he doesn't get called back up right away. Lots of players have had multiple numbers with the same franchise.
   12. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:32 PM (#4682468)

For most other teams, the Team Hall/Wall of Fame serves the purpose for which the Astros seem to have been retiring numbers. (Again, there's no commandment decreeing a retired number is inherently more of an honor than the team Hall of Fame, but that is how most franchises do it.)


Well, there really are no space limitations to the Hall/Wall as there are to the numbers (yes, there is an infinite supply, but practically it's two digits, and aesthetically it's typically 1-60). If you get too liberal with the number retirement process, your regular season games will start looking like the road lineup on a split squad day in Florida. Or you end up with inconsistent application of the honor, where the Stros might be and where the Yankees are heading.


   13. vortex of dissipation Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:34 PM (#4682470)
It's much like suggesting kicking George Kelly, Lloyd Waner, etc. out of the Hall of Fame. You could make a new Hall of Fame without them, if you want. But (absent an O.J.-like situation) you can't rescind the honor that they were freely and fairly given.

For most other teams, the Team Hall/Wall of Fame serves the purpose for which the Astros seem to have been retiring numbers. (Again, there's no commandment decreeing a retired number is inherently more of an honor than the team Hall of Fame, but that is how most franchises do it.)


In the Astros' case, I think "un-retiring" Umbricht's and Wilson's numbers would be much worse. Their numbers were retired because they died while they were active players with the Astros. Whether those number should have been retired is a completely legitimate debate, but the fact is that they were retired, and "un-retiring" them at this point would be an insult to their memories, and to the families of the deceased.
   14. AJMcCringleberry Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:37 PM (#4682474)
With too many retired numbers, Astros should reintroduce numbers

P.S. I am not a crackpot.
   15. GregD Posted: April 08, 2014 at 10:12 PM (#4682492)
Their numbers were retired because they died while they were active players with the Astros. Whether those number should have been retired is a completely legitimate debate, but the fact is that they were retired, and "un-retiring" them at this point would be an insult to their memories, and to the families of the deceased.
I would be okay with it if they were resurrected
   16. Joe Kehoskie Posted: April 08, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4682499)
In the Astros' case, I think "un-retiring" Umbricht's and Wilson's numbers would be much worse. Their numbers were retired because they died while they were active players with the Astros. Whether those number should have been retired is a completely legitimate debate, but the fact is that they were retired, and "un-retiring" them at this point would be an insult to their memories, and to the families of the deceased.

I'm sure it would generate a little outrage among the players' surviving family members, as the Marlins did when they unretired No. 5 not long ago,* but I don't see it as a big deal (and certainly not analogous to kicking players out of the HOF). The Astros jumped the gun by retiring those numbers as a tribute right after the players died, when the smart move would have been to simply not issue those numbers for a few years, and they'd be correcting a decades-old mistake. (For the players who are still alive, who were sort of "inducted" to the retired-number club via a ceremony, it's a lot dicier.)


(* Which corrected a move that was goofy in the first place. The Marlins retired No. 5 after the death of former team president Carl Barger, whose favorite player was Joe DiMaggio.)
   17. Hank G. Posted: April 08, 2014 at 10:28 PM (#4682505)
How do clubs manage numbers for minor leaguers? They must have some system to reserve numbers when a guy is sent down.


Mickey Mantle had number 6 before he was sent back down to the minors.
   18. Greg K Posted: April 08, 2014 at 10:32 PM (#4682513)
Mickey Mantle had number 6 before he was sent back down to the minors.

Blossom was on NBC at the same time as Seinfeld, and as I recall Blossom's friend was named Six.

Maybe a connection?
   19. Jay Z Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:25 PM (#4682558)
Are players required to wear a number? They aren't really needed for gameplay. If 2 digits are out, just send them out with a name and a blank back.

Alternatively, go to hex and there are 256 possibilities, and so on down the line. Any two numbers, letters, or symbols.
   20. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:27 PM (#4682559)
But I -- and, I'd imagine, most everyone else -- don't think it's an option to "un-retire" somebody's number.


The Broncos un-retired No. 18 for Peyton Manning. It had been retired for Frank Tripucka, who didn't have any particular claim to fame other than being the first quarterback in Broncos history.
   21. GregD Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:28 PM (#4682562)
Frank Tripucka, who didn't have any particular claim to fame other than being the first quarterback in Broncos history.
and the father of one of the most-conscience-free-gunners in hoops history!
   22. Perry Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:46 PM (#4682573)
The Broncos un-retired No. 18 for Peyton Manning. It had been retired for Frank Tripucka, who didn't have any particular claim to fame other than being the first quarterback in Broncos history.


It should be pointed out that they did it with Tripucka's full blessing. He's dead now, but was alive when Manning signed and they cleared it with him.
   23. ursus arctos Posted: April 08, 2014 at 11:59 PM (#4682579)
The Reds retired Willard Herschberger's number in the immediate aftermath of his tragic suicide, only to unretire it a few years later.

About 25 years later, they gave that number to a kid named Bench, and when he was done with it it stayed retired.
   24. Rennie's Tenet Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:03 AM (#4682582)
Add color to player numbers, so that your outfield could be black, red, and green 22.
   25. Monty Predicts a Padres-Mariners WS in 2016 Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:46 AM (#4682592)
I think you can unretire numbers on a case-by-case basis. If the Padres ever get really good for a long period of time and start running low on numbers, they could probably unretire Steve Garvey's number without causing too much outrage.
   26. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:03 AM (#4682600)
I think "un-retiring" Umbricht's and Wilson's numbers would be much worse. Their numbers were retired because they died while they were active players with the Astros.

While a season-long patch with the player's number on the uniform sleeve would have been a more appropriate gesture for a deceased player, I agree that it is beyond tacky to "unretire" a retired number.

If in another century or two, teams are really running out of numbers, just switch the color of all the numbers and start over with a new slate of red, green, blue or whatever color numbers. Or add decimal points.
   27. RMc's desperate, often sordid world Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:04 AM (#4682684)
Fair enough. Let's go to hex then.

Or binary. "Hey, number 110010, let's see some hustle...!"
   28. Astroenteritis (tom) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:40 AM (#4682709)
The Astros went way overboard in retiring numbers. I would not bring back Umbricht and Wilson's numbers now, but something short of retiring their numbers would have been appropriate.
The only numbers truly worthy of retirement are Biggio, Bagwell and Ryan. And of course, 42. I've been a fan of the team for 47 years, but you can't create tradition where it doesn't exist.
   29. AROM Posted: April 09, 2014 at 09:47 AM (#4682715)
And that is weird. I imagine most teams do a pretty good job of unofficially retiring a uniform number for a guy who might eventually earn the honor later on down the road.


They never did that for Downing. But seeing his #5 jersey on Pujols is much better than watching it on Jeff Mathis. There were a lot of reasons as an Angel fan to be frustrated with Mathis:

1. His "hitting"
2. His throws into center field
3. Scioscia's insistence on giving him equal time with Napoli.

But watching him wear Brian Downing's number was the worst part of it for me.
   30. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: April 09, 2014 at 10:50 AM (#4682809)
29 posts and not a single Futurama reference??

Professor Hubert Farnsworth: Why is your number 7/8?

Leela: All the whole numbers have been retired.
   31. deputydrew Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4682838)
The Giants considered unretiring Willie Mays's #24 when they signed Barry Bonds prior to 1993. IIRC, Mays himself supported the move, but fan reaction convinced Barry and the team that he should wear his father's #25.
   32. Bourbon Samurai in Asia Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:33 AM (#4682858)
It should be pointed out that they did it with Tripucka's full blessing. He's dead now, but was alive when Manning signed and they cleared it with him.


I kind of dig the idea that instead of retiring the numbers you just let a guy "own" his number. So he approves people who wear it out and you get to come out and have him do a little thing at the ballpark or whatever.
   33. SoCalDemon Posted: April 09, 2014 at 11:42 AM (#4682867)
Or you end up with inconsistent application of the honor, where the Stros might be and where the Yankees are heading.


I don't really see any problem with this. I think that the Hall of Fame should be much about overall value. However, I don't really think this standard should be applied to numbers, and in fact this newfangled idea to only retire numbers for players in the HOF seems to make retiring numbers entirely redundant. However, I think that there should be a lot more latitude in retiring numbers.

Maybe this is just because I want Frank Thomas' number for the A's retired, and a statue of him holding his rebar put in front of the stadium...and if it could be animatronic, that would be even better.
   34. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:11 PM (#4682905)
I don't really see any problem with this. I think that the Hall of Fame should be much about overall value. However, I don't really think this standard should be applied to numbers, and in fact this newfangled idea to only retire numbers for players in the HOF seems to make retiring numbers entirely redundant. However, I think that there should be a lot more latitude in retiring numbers.


That's not what I'm saying.

I don't believe one must be a Hall of Famer to have his number retired by a club, nor do I believe that just because a guy was a Hall of Famer and spent time with the club his number has to be retired.

I do believe that the standards for retiring numbers should be pretty damn high, and the honor given out consistently (in the Yankees case, that would mean you don't retire Roger Maris's and Ron Guidry's numbers while ignoring Willie Randolph's and Red Ruffing's, or in the Astros situation you don't set aside Joe Niekro's while balking at Roy Oswalt's).

   35. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 09, 2014 at 12:26 PM (#4682915)
The Orioles should retire 1/8.
   36. if nature called, ladodger34 would listen Posted: April 09, 2014 at 01:54 PM (#4683015)
I kind of dig the idea that instead of retiring the numbers you just let a guy "own" his number. So he approves people who wear it out and you get to come out and have him do a little thing at the ballpark or whatever.


Or you kind of do what the Dodgers have done with numbers. Fernando's number is unofficially retired. Garvey's was for quite some time (though it sucks that Jason Grabowski "unretired" it) as was Hershiser (Giovanni Cararra wore it). The Dodgers have actually done a pretty good job retiring numbers aside from Jim Gilliam in that they only retire HOFs.

It will be interesting to see what they do when PIazza finally gets in.
   37. base ball chick Posted: April 09, 2014 at 03:01 PM (#4683096)
10. The District Attorney Posted: April 08, 2014 at 09:11 PM (#4682443)

"What number can we give Joe Gascan?" "Well, 18 was last used by Bobby
Fumblehands 3 years ago when he was up for 2 weeks when the SS was out. He's still in AAA but I guess he's probably not coming up in the next 2 weeks." "What about Gary Freepass? He was up 2 years ago and had number 29, but now Donny Holeinswing has that one."

I appreciate that you used real Astros minor leaguers from the Ed Wade era to illustrate this concept.


- no change in those guys since ed wade got shttcanned, promise you that

thought they retired mike scott's number a little too quick. dierk got his retired the year after he quit/was fired/retired being manager, i thought as kind of a - so sorry, don't badmouth us - kind of thing.
agree with them honoring jose cruz and jimmy wynn, who were HOVG players for the astros for a long LONG time
- of course they had to do it with biggio/bagwell, those dirty druggies

they should not have retired umbricht/wilson's numbers, but it is just wrong to unretire them.

- i would not be real too surprised if they retire roy oswalt and lance berkman's numbers, too - gotta get people into the ballpark SOMEhow, right?

they were "honored" in a ceremony last sat and i almost broke my vow never to set foot in there again, but then i looked at ticket prices and saw that shttthead owner has almost doubled seat prices. for this piece of crap AAA team. and there aren't real too many for sale on stubhub, and those that are are the same price as the team's



   38. zenbitz Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:13 PM (#4683221)
CAN"T THEY JUST USE LOWERCASE NUMBERS?
   39. I am Ted F'ing Williams Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:25 PM (#4683248)
(yes, there is an infinite supply, but practically it's two digits, and aesthetically it's typically 1-60).


Jose Abreu took #79 because he wanted a number no one else would want.

And who can forget Benito Santiago's 09.
   40. JoeHova Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:32 PM (#4683257)
It's already being done, in Japan.


In Mexican soccer too. There were 5 guys wearing triple digit numbers as of a couple years ago.
   41. Moeball Posted: April 09, 2014 at 04:58 PM (#4683282)
Was in Phoenix in mid-March to watch some spring baseball.

Saw Giants employ some interesting uniform numbering in a game against the Mariners - the Giants had three (that's right, 3!) number 79s in the game. I didn't even know you could do that! The funniest part was when one scored while another was at bat...did he just drive himself in without hitting a HR?
   42. Moeball Posted: April 09, 2014 at 05:40 PM (#4683332)
I always thought a retired number for a player should represent:

1)A player who had played for a team an extensive number of years - like, maybe, at least 8-10 years or something like that?
2)A player who made a substantial impact on the franchise during that time - did he make a bunch of All Star teams, put up some black ink, win a few Gold Gloves or something?
3)A player who was a key part of a team's success that may or may not also qualify under Type 1 or Type 2

By meeting at least one of the criteria above it would seem that a player could be clearly identified with that franchise in some way that might make sense for a retirement of the number.

Examples that might make sense:

Type 1 - an obvious example would be someone like T Gwynn with the Padres
Type 2 - Rod Carew with the Twins, Wade Boggs with Boston
Type 3 - Jorge Posada or someone like that with the Yankees? Not necessarily a HOF player but clearly a key contributor to his team's success for many seasons

Examples that make no sense:

Retiring someone's number solely because he kicked the bucket when he wasn't a perennial All Star level player to start with (seriously? The Astros retired Don Wilson's number because he died? Didn't he commit suicide or is that just urban legend?) Wear a patch to honor a player's passing, but don't retire the jersey.

Retiring some HOF's jersey because he played a few years for your team at the end of his career when he was just hanging on but all his peak seasons that earned his ticket to Cooperstown were with some other team - I think there have been several abuses of this one, haven't there? I was thinking maybe Rod Carew with the Angels but then I looked up his numbers and I guess he was actually better with the Angels than I remembered although it is still clear all his peak seasons were with Minnesota.

The Padres retiring Steve Garvey's number for one friggin' "clutch" game - this is just inexcusable. This is far beyond idiotic and way past the realm of pathetic. If your franchise has had so little success and so few players worth remembering that you're even considering stooping to this level, then you need to blow up the franchise and start all over - and I say this even as a season ticket holder.
   43. Steve Treder Posted: April 09, 2014 at 06:33 PM (#4683372)
Didn't he commit suicide or is that just urban legend?

It was a horrific tragedy that killed not only Wilson, but also his son, and injured his wife and daughter. It was officially ruled accidental.
   44. God Posted: April 09, 2014 at 07:41 PM (#4683431)
There's at least moderately good reason to wonder whether the official story on Wilson is actually true. I don't imagine it would have taken much convincing on the part of Judge Roy Hofheinz to get the Houston police in those days to sweep something under the rug. More to the point, Wilson's wife was discovered unconscious, still in her bed but with a freshly broken jaw that she declined to answer questions about. It seems plausible, if not likely, that some sort of fight had occurred between the couple earlier on the night the incident happened.

Scenario 1: Things happen just as the cops say they did. Wilson decides to sleep in the car after returning home from a night on the town. Forgets to turn car off. Kills himself and his son by accident. (This scenario is made less plausible by the fact that Wilson was found in the passenger seat.)

Scenario 2: Wilson has a fistfight with his wife, decides life isn't worth living anymore, kills himself (and also his son accidentally) in the process.

Scenario 3: Mrs. Wilson drives her drunk husband home, does something to irritate him, receives a broken jaw for her troubles, and after arriving home decides to just go upstairs, leaving his sorry drunk ass to fend for himself. This scenario would not qualify as murder. Perhaps negligent homicide, perhaps nothing.

Scenario 4: Starts out the same as scenario 3 except Mrs. Wilson deliberately returns later to start the car. This makes it premeditated murder.

Scenario 5: ???

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