Sunday, April 06, 2008

The 21 Project/Non-Baseball Ramblings

I'll admit, I haven't been too optimistic about the prospect of LaTroy Hawkins in pinstripes, and his performance Friday's game has me desperately hoping I'm wrong about him. Mini-Moose (and sadly, I don't mean that nickname in a good way right now) nibbled and got shelled (4 BB and 6 runs in 2 1/3 IP); then, after a four-run third inning rally and 4 2/3 sterling innings of relief by Jonathan Alabadejo, Ross Ohlendorf, and Billy Traber, the Hawk came in and coughed up six runs of his own, and couldn't even get out of the inning.

The extra bit of salt in the wounds was that Hawkins made this craptastic appearance wearing Paul O'Neill's old number, 21. No Yankee had worn the number since O'Neill retired, but Hawkins wanted it because it was Roberto Clemente's number. Supposedly, Hawkins can't comprehend why Yankee fans would mind him wearing O'Neill's number.

Now, the natural reaction from fans will be to help him comprehend by booing him whenever he takes the mound. If he keeps performing like this, that'll be an easy choice. But here's an idea: what if, instead of making Hawkins's life miserable, we just asked him nicely to pick a new number? I'm thinking of something on the level of Steve Lombardi's Project P46, just rather than trying to convince a beloved Yankee to return to the fold, we'd be asking a new Yankee to respect the 0ur feelings about about a team favorite, and give up his uniform number.

It's pretty easy. Get a card, postcard, or regular letter stationery. Write LaTroy a pleasant note, explaining what Paul O'Neill meant to you, and why you think no one else should wear that uniform number for the Yankees, ever again. Ask him nicely to give it up, and maybe even suggest another uni number he'd enjoy. Affix a stamp and mail your letter/card to:

LaTroy Hawkins
Yankee Stadium
161st Street and River Avenue
Bronx, NY 10451

If you want to get some extra credit, you can also try to ensure that no one else ever wears O'Neill's #21 on Yankee pinstripes again. You can do this by buying a couple of extra postcards and letting higher-up members of the Yankee organization know that you think the Yankees should retire uniform number 21, in honor of O'Neill and/or Clemente. While I think that Paulie O is enough reason all by himself for the number to be retired, the fact that it's also Clemente's number makes it an absolute no-brainer: retiring the number would be special not just to all those fans of the late-90s Yankees, but also to loads of Hispanic fans throughout baseball. Many forget that the same segregation that kept African Americans out of MLB until 1947 also kept dark-skinned Latinos from playing. Clemente was the Latino Jackie Robinson; and honoring him is a way that the Yankees could be ahead of the curve. Anyway, you can write a note explaining why you feel the Yanks should retire #21 to Brian Cashman, at the same address as Hawkins, above, or you can just send your complaint straight to the top:

Hank Steinbrenner
George M. Steinbrenner Field
1 Steinbrenner Drive
Tampa, FL 33614

I suspect that you could also address a letter to Hank's brother/co-managing partner Harold Steinbrenner at the same Tampa address. If you want to learn more about the overall effort to have Clemente's #21 retired throughout Major League Baseball, you can visit


Speaking of 21, I hadn't previously mentioned here my experience sitting in for Joe Sheehan at the AL Tout Wars draft. Tout Wars is an expert fantasy baseball league, in which all the participants are pretty much fantasy baseball professionals. The AL Tout league had been the subject of a bestselling book called Fantasyland, and this year, was the subject of a documentary by the same name. If you want to know what the draft was like, you can read my column on it over at Baseball Prospectus. Just don't needle me too much on the fact that the player I spent 10% of Sheehan's budget on, Mariners reliever J.J. Putz, just got injured and is likely to miss close to two months of the season. I hear that often enough from Joe.

Anyway, after the draft, the participants and a few others went out to a restaurant to socialize, which was tremendous fun. I always enjoy hanging with a crowd that knows more about baseball than I do, and it was great to hear behind-the-scenes stuff about how's Gamecast system works, and anecdotes about the Atlanta Braves, and that kind of cool stuff.

At one point in the evening, one of my fellow-drafters sheepishly confessed that he's a big devotee of blackjack, and that he counts cards in Vegas. Which was funny, since the guy was sitting about five feet away from perhaps the most famous card-counter in the country, Protrade founder Jeff Ma, who was going to participate in one of the other Tout Wars drafts the following day. Ma was the main subject of a bestselling book about an MIT card-counting team, Bringing Down the House, which had just been turned into a movie, 21. As of last weekend, 21 was the top movie in the country. Small world.


Now, despite the box office success, the reviews haven't been kind to 21. Not having seen it yet, I can't comment on whether they have the film pegged right or wrong. The one thing I will say is that the movie seems to have bothered the New York Times's Manohla Dargis enough that she invented a new term for her review:
Ben ogles the chintzy glamour and the chesty blondes spilling out of their dresses, and the movie does exactly the same. He particularly likes it when his skinny school crush, Jill, clambers aboard and offers him a lap job, for which I hope the young actress Kate Bosworth was well compensated. Like everything else in “21,” Jill can be bought for the right price, as of course can Ben and, by extension, us.
Now, Dargis is a great reviewer; but if you're going to be judgmental and snarky, you need to get your terminology right. If you google the term "lap job" you get a bunch of references to people overclocking computer processors. Since Bosworth's supposed to be playing an MIT genius/nerd, this might not be out of character. But that wouldn't explain Dargis's comment that Bosworth's character "can be bought." Obviously, Dargis thinks that a "lap job" is more than just trying to give the boy she likes a more efficient heat sink.

I've, um, heard of lap dances. As someone who tries to keep up with the language of perversity, I'm also familiar with various fine, intimate terms ending in --job, which I won't enumerate since this is a family blog. However, among what Padma Lakshmi would call the "Job Family of Products" I've never heard of the lap job. Is it new? The whole thing sounds like the scene in 40 Year Old Virgin where Steve Carrell tries, and fails, to describe what a woman's breast feels like.


Aaron said...

uggg...listen, I'm a huge O'neil fan. growing up he was my second favorite player behind bernie. But you've got to let this one go. He is very god and a fan favorite, but he doesn't deserve to have his number retired!! I mean if they do they wont have any numbers left! Booing hawkins, or starting some BS petition is dumb. let the man have his number. let him honor clemente, and get over it!

DJ said...


I guess I wasn't clear enough: I don't favor booing Hawkins for wearing #21 (I didn't boo him on Opening Day, it's as stupid as the smattering of knuckleheads who want to boo the Canadian National Anthem when the Jays are in town) and I don't think he should be forced to give up the number (that's why I didn't suggest a petition). I think, however, that many people are bothered by the fact that he's wearing the number, and the proper way to deal with that kind of problem is personally--rather than booing someone anonymously, you send them a piece of snailmail saying, as politely as possible, what your point of view on this question is.

Nobody should be telling him "You suck, you don't deserve to wear that uniform." Heck, if I was a baseball player and received letters like that, I'd keep wearing the number out of spite. Rather, I'd hope that if people tell him how strongly they feel about O'Neill, or about Clemente, they could convince him to give up the uni number, thereby eliminating a completely unnecessary distraction that neither Hawkins nor the Yankees need. It's hard enough to play in New York without people hating you just for the number on your back.