Monday, April 16, 2012

You can't tell the players even with a scorecard

Sunday was the 65th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's Major League debut. I went to the game at the new Marlins Park, the $ 500 million public giveaway, and I was glad to be able to explain to my daughter who Robinson was. But MLB did something bizarre. Every singe player wore the # 42, without his name on the jersey. This literally made it impossible to know who was who, not only for geeky fans (like me) trying to keep score and follow player changes, but also for the PA announcer, who clearly made several mistakes in announcing who was pinch-hitting, who was pitching, etc.

I do not get the idea behind this tribute. What does it say to have every single player wear Robinson's number as his number (as opposed to as a sleeve patch), especially when it means every player seems to lose his own identity, at least for fans sitting far from the field (which at Marlins Park is pretty much everyone). Is the meaning that we all are Jackie Robinson, in the sense that all players, regardless of race or ethnicity, owe Robinson a debt? If so, the number 42 does not necessarily tell me that. I have never intimately associated Robinson with that number the way we associate Michael Jordan with 23, Wayne Gretzky with 99, or Mickey Mantle with 7.