The problem with Steinbrenner's plaque


Jeff Pearlman on the latest thing you can see from outer space:

A disclaimer: This is meaningless. In the grand scheme of the world, who cares? Really, who cares.

That said, what the hell were the Yankees thinking when they polluted sacred Monument Park with a 7-feet-wide and 5-feet-high plaque to George Steinbrenner that dwarfs everything else within sight? Bigger than Babe Ruth? Bigger than Lou Gehrig? Bigger than Joltin’ Joe and the Mick?


Does he deserve to be recognized? Of course. But this is just downright offensive. I looked on Baseball Reference. The name George Steinbrenner doesn’t appear. Not one hit, one win, one RBI, one strikeout. Nothing. He was a man in a suit who happened to be blessed with great fortune.


Well, that's probably a bit too strong. Lots of wealthy men have owned baseball teams without building what George Steinbrenner built.

But yes, if I were a Yankees fan I would be offended. When you look at the photo accompanying Pearlman's post, it's really quite astonishing.

Technically, it's not actually a monument. Technically, the only monuments are those honoring Miller Huggins, Lou Gehrig (WHOSE AMAZING RECORD OF 2,130 CONSECUTIVE GAMES SHOULD STAND FOR ALL TIME), Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and the victims and rescue workers of 9/11.

What George Steinbrenner's got -- along with just about every other Yankee great you can think of -- is a plaque, the distinction being that his plaque is probably six or seven times larger than Yogi Berra's or Casey Stengel's.

Now, maybe there should be some gradations allowed. Maybe Yogi Berra's plaque should be bigger than Ron Guidry's, and maybe Mickey Mantle's plaque (he's got a monument and a plaque) should be bigger than Berra's. But they're not. As near as I can tell from the photos, everyone's plaque is exactly the same size ... except for the Boss'. And it's sort of a shame that apparently nobody with the ear of the Steinbrothers was able (or willing) to suggest that maybe, just maybe, discretion might be the tasteful course of action here.

Because this seems an affront to everyone associated with the Yankees: players, managers, fans. I thought the Yankees were supposed to be bigger than just one man. I thought George Steinbrenner was just another in a line of owners who's made the Yankees the greatest franchise in American sports history, just as Derek Jeter is just another in a line of players, and Joe Torre was just another in a line of managers.

Pearlman's right: In the grand scheme, this is meaningless. And I sympathize with the Steinbrenner family, which will always struggle with the patriarch's towering shadow. But it shouldn't have been like this. Instead of honoring their father, they have left his image open to justifiable ridicule.