Sunday, June 17, 2012

A Change Of Heart Down Under On Boggs

by Mark Lawrence, Down Under Editor

Sydney, Australia. Late last night, I had myself one of those wait-a-minute-what-were-you-thinking moments that yanked me up and out of my usual slump on the couch: I’d voted in favor of retiring Wade Boggs’ number.

Mr. Pollster, sir, I’d like to change my vote please.

Wade Boggs simply doesn’t meet the criteria to have his number retired and before anyone yells ‘Pesky’, well, that’s a whole different ballgame, if you’ll pardon the pun.  Boggs played around ten years with Boston, up until he had a pretty bad season – in 1992, he hit only .259 – and the following year, he wound up in New York, where he soon busted out of the slump with four straight .300 plus seasons –and a couple of Gold Gloves and some All Star appearances.  Four of ‘em, actually.

I wonder what would have happened if he’d stayed in Boston.

Anyway, in ‘96 he helped the Yanks to their first World Series in 18 years, (by drawing a pinch-hit walk in the tenth).  Shortly after that, he was spotted – most memorably – on the back end of NYPD horse.  Two years later, he joined his last team, the Rays, where he picked up his 3,000th hit – a home run, no less – and his future admittance to The Hall was pretty much assured.

A brilliant career to be sure, but in this context it’s largely irrelevant.  Wade Boggs didn’t end his playing days in a Red Sox uniform and that’s why his number can’t be hung up on the façade.  And if you want to throw Pesky at me, consider this:  the Needle’s lifelong – and ongoing – dedication to the team guaranteed him the special recognition of a retired number.  (Besides, I have it on fairly good authority that old Pesky still wears a Red Sox jersey pretty much every day of his life, whether he’s weeding the garden, cleaning out the garage or taking BP in his backyard).

Wade Boggs wore Number 12 for the Devil Rays.  They retired that number in his honor back in 2000. That was their decision.  Down in the Fens, however, there are still some rules that haven’t yet been broken or badly bent and if Boston’s retired number tradition is to continue to hold any special significance at all, then Boggs’ number should not be honored.  And that, I’m afraid, is that.