Sunday, January 30, 2011

Retired Jersey Omissions

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH

When the Detroit Red Wings retired Steve Yzerman's No. 19 in 2007, all this franchise did was enhance it's rich history.

It won't be long that The Captain who replaced The Captain, Nicklas Lidstom, will follow in Yzerman's footsteps, and his No. 5 will be hanging in the rafters at Joe Louis Arena, and if Owner Mike Illitch has his way, in a new stadium down the road.

But there are a couple of other Detroit franchises that seem to be lagging behind in the retiring of jerseys department.

I'm sure by now that the Detroit Tigers have been told that they waited too long to honor former Manager Sparky Anderson. Sparky's No. 11 should have been retired in a ceremony while he was alive, not while he's dead.

His family will appreciate the gesture and having his name out there on the outfield wall for the fans, is all well and good, but again in my eyes it's too late!

It's not too late for the Tigers to do the right thing and honor their legendary middle infield combination of Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker. Seeing Trammell's No. 3 at shortstop and Whitaker's No. 1 at second base, as this duo spent their entire career with the Tigers leading them to the 1984 World Series Championship, is something that local fans can be proud of.

Besides, how many players spend their entire careers with one organization? Not many.

I might even try to make a case for No. 47 Jack Morris of the Tigers because he did pitch a no-hitter in 1984 and was their best hurler in that year's championship season. In 14 seasons with the Tigers, Morris was 198-150.

The Detroit Pistons are becoming the biggest culprit of not retiring jersey numbers.

The No. 22 jersey worn by John Salley and Tayshaun Prince has been a part of three NBA Championships.

At some point, the No. 1 which Chauncey Billups wore proudly, that led to a title is something that should be recognized.

And on that note, what have the Pistons accomplished without him since he was traded to Denver for Allen Iverson, in what will go down as one of the worst moves in team history?

The Pistons are doing a great job burning their bridges with Richard Hamilton and I'd highly doubt it if we ever see his No. 32 jersey retired anytime soon. With his decreased playing time and the Carmelo Anthony trade rumors, it has to be tough for Hamilton to show up for work.

All of these individuals mentioned are deserving of this honor but whether we ever see it, is anyone's guess.

If we do, I just hope there isn't a repeat of the Anderson mistake and they're alive to be appreciated by the fans. They deserve the respect and have earned it.

In the Pistons case, I have a feeling the new ownership will do the honors and Joe Dumars won't be around to see this through. Then again, with the Billups and Hamilton fiascos, does he deserve to be?

It's sad because he built a great team that was of championship caliber and it didn't take him long to destroy it.

If I had to single out any one specific criteria where a player should have his number retired, it would be if they spend their entire career in one team. The only exception to that rule is if that player was instrumental in leading his organization to a winning tradition which could have resulted in a championship.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at scottsports33@aol.com and his blog can be seen at www.scottsports33.com.

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