Friday, June 3, 2016

Why Is Don Mattingly In Monument Park?

Tonight, the Mets begin a 3-game series away to the Miami Marlins.

The Marlins will not win the National League Pennant this year. Why? Because they don't have enough talent? It wouldn't matter if they did: They will not win the Pennant because their manager is Don Mattingly.

The Curse of Donnie Baseball is the one unbreakable curse in sports: No team with Don Mattingly in uniform has ever won a Pennant, and none ever will:


* 1982-95 Yankees: Mattingly as player.
* 2004-07 Yankees: Mattingly as coach.
* 2008-10 Dodgers: Mattingly as coach.
* 2011-15 Dodgers: Mattingly as manager.
* 2016-present Marlins: Mattingly as manager.

*

Despite not winning a single Pennant, or even a single postseason series, with Mattingly as a player, the Yankees dedicated a Plaque to him for their Monument Park.

Why? What did he do to deserve it?

The most common answer is a variation on, "He was a great player during a dark time."

So was Bobby Murcer, and he eventually played on a Pennant winner. He doesn't have a Plaque. The same is true for Dave Winfield.

A "great player"? The Yankees have a different standard. The Yankees are about winning.

Wally Pipp. Lou Gehrig. Babe Dahlgren. Johnny Sturm. Buddy Hassett. Nick Etten. George McQuinn. Joe Collins. Moose Skowron. Joe Pepitone. Chris Chambliss. Bob Watson. Tino Martinez. Jason Giambi. Mark Teixeira.

Each and every one of these men played 1st base for the Yankees, and every one of them won at least 1 American League Pennant. For that reason, Don Mattingly ranks behind all of them.

It's one thing for other teams to say, "This guy represented us at a time when we couldn't win, so let's honor him." The Yankees don't do that.

There are players much more deserving of Monument Park than Mattingly who aren't in it. Many of them: Bob Meusel, Waite Hoyt, Herb Pennock, Tony Lazzeri, Johnny Murphy, Joe Gordon, Tommy Henrich, Charlie Keller, Spud Chandler, the aforementioned Moose Skowron, Bobby Murcer.

In 1983, George Steinbrenner talked Murcer into retiring and going into the broadcast booth so that a roster spot could be opened up, and Mattingly could be brought back up to the majors. You talk about a guy who represented us with talent, class and distinction at bad times, he did that as a player (the early 1970s) and as a broadcaster (most of the 1980s, and the early 1990s), but he's not in Monument Park.

Sparky Lyle, Graig Nettles, Catfish Hunter, Dave Winfield (who was a better player at peak, better for a career, and did win us a Pennant), Jimmy Key, Wade Boggs, David Cone. None of them is in Monument Park.

Even original Yankees, Highlanders, who may not have won a Pennant, but in 1904 came closer than Mattingly did (at least as a player), and reached the Hall of Fame: Clark Griffith, Jack Chesbro, and a better hitter than Mattingly ever was in his own dreams, Willie Keeler.

Wee Willie was just 5-foot-4 and 140 pounds, yet he batted .344 lifetime, fell just short of 3,000 career hits, still shares the National League record with a 44-game hitting streak, and had he helped the Yankees win the Pennant in 1904, it would have been the 6th of his career. He was, perhaps, pound-for-pound and inch-for-inch, the best pure hitter the game has ever seen, and we had him when he was still 1 of the top 5 hitters in the game.

Keeler is not in Monument Park. Mattingly is, and yet, he did nothing for us.

"But Uncle Mike," you might say, "He won a Most Valuable Player award!" He won an MVP? So did Gordon and Chandler, and they won multiple Pennants, and Gordon's in the Hall of Fame, yet they don't have Plaques.

"But Uncle Mike, he won a batting title as a Yankee!" So did George "Snuffy" Stirnweiss, in 1945, and he doesn't have a Plaque.

"But Uncle Mike, he represented the Yankee Tradition in a dark period!" No, he didn't. The Yankee tradition isn't coming close and falling short. It's winning. He didn't do that.

"But Uncle Mike, he was classy!" So was Winfield, yet he doesn't have a Plaque.

Think about it. Here are the World Series won by the Monument Park honorees. (I'll count players only, and include Jeter, not yet honored; and Rivera, who doesn't yet have a Plaque but has had his number retired.)

Yogi Berra, 10: 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962.
Joe DiMaggio, 9: 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951.
Bill Dickey, 8: 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943.
Red Ruffing, 7: 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1943.
Phil Rizzuto, 7: 1941, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953.
Mickey Mantle, 7: 1951, 1952, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962.
Lou Gehrig, 6: 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938.
Lefty Gomez, 6: 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941.
Allie Reynolds, 6: 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953.
Whitey Ford, 6: 1950, 1953, 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962.
Derek Jeter, 5: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009.
Mariano Rivera, 5: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009.
Andy Pettitte, 5: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009.
Babe Ruth, 4: 1923, 1927, 1928, 1932.
Elston Howard, 4: 1956, 1958, 1961, 1962.
Bernie Williams, 4: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.
Tino Martinez, 4: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.
Paul O'Neill, 4: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000.
Jorge Posada, 4: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009.
Roger Maris, 2: 1961, 1962.
Ron Guidry, 2: 1977, 1978.
Willie Randolph, 2: 1977, 1978.
Thurman Munson, 2: 1977, 1978.
Reggie Jackson, 2: 1977, 1978.
Goose Gossage, 1: 1978.
Mel Stottlemyre, 0
Don Mattingly, 0

And, let's face it, Mel was honored as much for being a pitching coach (4 rings) as he was for being a pitcher.

And here are the Pennants they have won:

Yogi Berra, 14: 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963.
Mickey Mantle, 12: 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964.
Whitey Ford, 11: 1950, 1953, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964.
Joe DiMaggio, 10: 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951.
Bill Dickey, 9: 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943.
Phil Rizzuto, 9: 1941, 1942, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1955.
Elston Howard, 9: 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964.
Red Ruffing, 8: 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942, 1943.
Babe Ruth, 7: 1921, 1922, 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1932.
Lou Gehrig, 7: 1926, 1927, 1928, 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938.
Lefty Gomez, 7: 1932, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1942.
Derek Jeter, 7: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009.
Mariano Rivera, 7: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009.
Andy Pettitte, 7: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009.
Allie Reynolds, 6: 1947, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953.
Jorge Posada, 6: 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009.
Bernie Williams, 6: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003.
Roger Maris, 5: 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964.
Tino Martinez, 5: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001.
Paul O'Neill, 5: 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001.
Ron Guidry, 4: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981.
Willie Randolph, 4: 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981.
Thurman Munson, 3: 1976, 1977, 1978.
Reggie Jackson, 3: 1977, 1978, 1981.
Goose Gossage, 2: 1978, 1981.
Mel Stottlemyre, 1: 1964.
Don Mattingly, 0

Only 1 didn't win at least 1 Pennant: Don Mattingly.

Let me put this another way: Don Mattingly played in 2 winning postseason games in his entire career. Yogi Berra played in at least 3 winning postseason games in 1947, '49, '50, '51, '52, '53, '55, '56, '57, '58, '60, '61 and '62. And he only had 1 postseason round available to him.

Not only does Mattingly have a Plaque, but his Number 23 was retired. What other New York Tri-State Area team has retired a number for someone who didn't at least get them into their sport's Finals?

Mets: 37, Casey Stengel. Not a player, and a special circumstance. And 14, Gil Hodges, and he was also honored for what he did as a manager. And they've actually gone out of their way to not retire the numbers of deserving champions 8, Gary Carter, and 17, Keith Hernandez.

Giants: No one.

Jets: 28, Curtis Martin, unlike Mattingly a genuine Hall-of-Famer; 73, Joe Klecko, who could be a Hall-of-Famer; and 90, Dennis Byrd, a special circumstance.

Knicks: No one. They could have retired 34 for Charles Oakley and 3 for John Starks from their last good era, but they haven't, and not having won a title may be the reason why. They retired 33 for Patrick Ewing, but he is, at least, their all-time leading scorer, and he did reach 2 Finals. (Sort of: He was injured during the 1999 run.)

Nets: 3, Drazen Petrovic, a special circumstance.

Rangers: 3, Harry Howell, and 9, Andy Bathgate, both genuine Hall-of-Famers. (And Bathgate did win a Cup with Toronto in 1964.) Rod Gilbert didn't win a Cup, but he did help the Rangers reach the 1972 Finals, and he is their all-time leading scorer.

Islanders: No one. All 6 of their retired numbers, plus their other honorees, general manager Bill Torrey and head coach Al Arbour, are from their early 1980s dynasty, playing on all 4 of their Cup winners. They could honor Pierre Turgeon from their last big team, the 1993 Patrick Division Champions and Wales Conference Finalists, since his 77 is an unusual number that is unlikely to be worn again, but they haven't.

Devils: No one. All 4 honorees played on all 3 of their Cup winners. They could honor John MacLean, their 1st big star who played on their 1st Cup team, or Jamie Langenbrunner, a star of their last Cup team who later served as Captain, but the 15 that both of them wore remains unretired.

Mattingly is not a champion, and not a Hall-of-Famer, and he will probably never be either, in any capacity. And he didn't die while still an active player, or help found the franchise.

So why retire 23 and give him a Plaque?

Come on, give me a reason. A reason I haven't already shot down as being Un-Yankee-like.

1 comment:

Craig Edwards said...

Mattingly is in monument park for reasons not relating to numbers. He won't get into that hall but Yankee fans have a special place in their heart. Some things can't be quantified.