Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wither the Level of Excellence...and What Next?

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.


Gil Fisher said...

Tao, I agree. Maybe even 100%.

Five years of service? For a retired number?

Anonymous said...

"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"

We're sure its the only argument.
We're sure its a great argument.
We're also sure that if Delgado etc. make it to the Hall of Fame then their numbers will be retired.
We're also sure you wonder too much.

Tao of Stieb said...

If that's the case: when do we retire Dave Winfield's and Paul Molitor's numbers?

Ian - BJH said...

I'm not sure why the Blue Jays didn't just retire Alomar's number on Opening Day. They obviously had EE switch his number from 12 to 10 for a season, it just would've made much more sense to honour Alomar at the Home Opener.

Now Alomar has his name in the Level of Excellence, a Hall of Fame Banner next to the Pennants, and soon to be a retired number as well.

Jay said...

Because Winfield and Molitor did not wear the Blue Jays colours when inducted.

JToronto said...

I also find it weird they announce it 10 days before the ceremony. Why not announce it months ago and build up hype and sales?

Anonymous said...

Why are u guys always stuck with wondering about things that have obvious explanations? Anonymous and Jay are right and that's really all the explanation needed.

As you guys stated, you need to learn to concentrate more on the accomplishment being recognized (Alomar's number being retired) than those you feel might have reason to feel SOMEWHAT slighted by the decision or new tradition.

Alomar deserves the honor, not sure Delgado ever will and the Doc will have a hard decision on which team he goes into the Hall with if he wins another 1 or 2 with Philly and stays there the rest of his career.

Tao of Stieb said...

So...wear the Jays cap in the HoF and get your number retired. Otherwise, go away and never come back...is that what you're saying?

Because that's kinda stupid.

And I'm sorry if I "wonder" too much, but if you're here reading this blog, it's because I've spent the past five seasons wondering about this and that and the other thing.

If I don't need to think about the Jays, then I'll just post a picture of a foam finger and leave it there for the next five seasons.

It will free up a shit load of my time, I'll tell you that much.

Jay said...

We don't want you to change who you are. We love you enough to want you to keep your distance.

I'm just responding to your analysis with a bit of analysis of my own. Doesn't mean I agree with what Toronto's doing. I just see a correlation between what hat a player wears in the hall and the number getting retired by the Jays.

MK Piatkowski said...

I love the idea of retiring your number if you are voted into the HOF as a Jay while using the Level of Excellence to recogize those that deserved it but weren't voted in. I'd like to see Henke, Ward & Delgado up there. Would also be ok with Key & Hentgen.

Sorry you don't feel the same way.

Anonymous said...

Sorry. I have to agree with the Tao. If you are going to start retiring numbers, then you retire 37 first. The man deserves the respect. He oozed Jayness.

Chris said...

I took a stab at this on my blog yesterday too. My thoughts on this boil down to things like what do we do if Halladay gets inducted into the HoF but wears a Phillies Cap? Is that enough to retire his number here in Toronto? What about Clemens had he not been tied up in this steroid scandal? He was surely Cooperstown bound.

Greg E said...

I don't like this, I think it's stupid and dumb and dumb and stupid.

We have a Level of Excellence, which I thought was a perfect way to honour those that meant the most to the franchise.

Now we have two levels, where one is for those that mean the "mostest" to the Jays. Does Robbie now come off the LoE? Or are we really going to have three different 'I <3 Robbie' signs in the stadium?


rdillon99 said...

I think that there is a rational distinction to be made between HOF'ers like Molitor, Henderson and Winfield who came to the Jays at the tail end of their career for a short period of time, and someone like Alomar who was here during the prime of his career (albeit only for five years), and why the team would choose to retire Alomar's number but not those other players.

If players like Halladay and possibly Delgado someday make the HOF, I could see those players also being honoured in the same way regardless of whether they enter the HOF wearing a Blue Jay hat.

With respect to players like Stieb and Fernandez, despite how great we remember them to be and despite their probable greater contribution to the franchise, neither are Hall of Famers. There's a rational reason for not elevating them to this higher honour of having their number retired.

Anonymous said...

Save rationality for the HOF and retire numbers with the heart I say. I was around to watch both Stieb and Alomar play. And Robbie never made the impact on me as Dave did, despite the two WS wins RA was a part of. Sure I liked the guy and his contributions in the field and at the plate but I still would sooner retire Joe Carter's number (sorry Tao). As for number 37, that's a no brainer - that's 100% from the heart. I mean, the guy fucking rocked! Sure, he was a dick. But he was OUR dick! Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Wow Toa, quite the rant. Thanks for convincing me to stop following you.

Anonymous said...

(chuckle) "Toa"

Might consider changing the blog name to "The Toe of Wells"

Tao of Stieb said...


My loss, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Dave Stieb's 37 should be right beside Robbie's 12. no doubt.
anyone else think that Tony Fernandez is a HOF'er? I do.

tienda-erotica.jimdo.com said...

This will not succeed in fact, that's what I suppose.