As the ever-vigilant Brad Fullmer Fan is fond of pointing out, we have a knack around here for sucking the fun out of things. We'd like to think that it has something to do with being too analytical, and unable to enjoy something without sniffing around it and observing it from every angle.
So, when we heard that the Jays were going to retire Robbie Alomar's number 12 on July 31st, we'll confess that "happiness" may have been a little late to our party of emotions. (Whike surprise and confusion were right there at the door, waiting to come in.) Mostly, we were left wondering: If we're going to start retiring numbers, then what's the deal with the Level of Excellence?
Truth is (and we're pretty sure we've said this elsewhere), we liked the idea that the Jays honoured some of their historical greats, but kept their former uniform digits in circulation. Every time Scott Downs came into a game in recent years, wearing number 37, we thought of our patron saint. And it made us happy.
Now, with this announcement, the Jays essentially have two levels of honourable recognition, and some players are more honoured than others. Which is just a bit confusing to us.
This isn't to say that we don't like the idea of retiring Robbie's number. If that's the new tradition, then we're cool with that. But what about Stieb or Tony Fernandez? And eventually, Carlos Delgado and Roy Halladay? Do we have to get into a discussion of who belongs on which level of recognition. Will there be Members of the Order of Blue Jays? And maybe you ascend into becoming a Companion of the Order of Blue Jays at some point?
(We just totally confused our American readers with that last bit.)
And if you do begin to stratify the Blue Jays legends, who belongs in which strata? We're sure that part of the argument for having Alomar be first amongst legends is the fact that he's the first Blue Jay to be recognized by the Hall of Fame, though we'd also argue that just five of his 17 seasons were spent in Toronto (magnificent as they were), and that the recognition is as much for his excellence as a member of the Orioles and Indians as it is for his exceptional contributions to the Blue Jays.
Sure, Alomar was probably the best player to ever play for the Blue Jays (aside from Scott Rolen, of course...GBOAT!) But did he make the most substantial contribution to the franchise over his career?
Don't get us wrong here. We're not trying to diminish Alomar at all, and we're definitely not saying that the Jays need to maintain the status quo in these matters. Traditions are great, but it's also fun to be there at the dawn of a new tradition. What we're probably saying is that if the Jays are going to begin retiring numbers, then 37, 1, 25 and 32 should also probably be placed on a shelf for the time being.