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Everlasting Joy 6-28
Let teams immortalize players
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I made a brief trip to East Tennessee over the weekend and stayed at the sprawling Wilderness at the Smokies resort. It’s the hotel that features three water parks for all kinds of excitement.
One thing I noticed on the bill during checkout is the hotel charges sales tax, of course. Then it charges a resort fee. OK, I get that too. Then it charges sales tax on the resort fee.
How can you can charge sales tax on a fee? I understand sales tax on goods that are purchased – a loaf of bread, a TV, a car. But to apply sales tax to a fee is going a little far.
What does all this have to do with sports? Absolutely nothing. But it was at the hotel where I was involved in a discussion about baseball legend Roberto Clemente and a push to retire his No. 21 jersey across baseball.
To me this seems like a stretch. I say his team, the Pittsburgh Pirates, has every right to retire his number and hang it from the rafters of PNC Park.
Clemente put up all-star numbers during a stellar 18-year playing career. A glimpse of his stats shows he played in 15 All-Star Games and was the NL batting leader for four seasons. He also helped to break barriers as the first Latin American player to receive a World Series MVP award.
Clemente remained devoted to Latin America and Caribbean countries during his MLB career as he delivered humanitarian aid to them during times of need. Clemente died in a plane crash while en route to deliver aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua.
He was a great man and a great player, no doubt. But why should all of baseball be prohibited from using his No. 21?
Teams should be the ones honoring their stars. MLB is the organization which sanctions the games and works to ensure fairness by providing a clear set of rules, umpires, etc. MLB shouldn’t be in the business of picking sides and determining which players have their numbers retired.
MLB has already done this once by retiring the No. 42 worn by Jackie Robinson for breaking the color barrier in baseball. If we add Clemente’s No. 21 to the mix, where will it stop?
I could make an argument to permanently retire Babe Ruth’s number. How about Cal Ripken’s number? He played in more consecutive games than anyone. I’m confident there’s at least one pitcher who should be on this list too.
My point is MLB shouldn’t be deciding which numbers are permanently retired. Leave that to the Yankees, Red Sox and Braves. Teams should immortalize their players, not a supposedly neutral organization.