First off, the Yankees played like it was Pauly O'Shore Day.
Paul made a lukewarm speech, thanking everybody, all the way up to his dad. You kept waiting for the kicker line, the "I consider myself the luckiest..." cresendo. It never happened. I blame YES. Something happens to YES announcers. They say so much about nothing about nothing, when the time comes to say something about something, they say nothing about it. O'Neill needed a great, all-time sound byte. Mickey had one, when he referenced Lou Gehrig, and Rizzuto nearly fell over the cow. The more people who get these special day ceremonies, the less we may remember them.
It's as if Monument Park now has a second wild card slot.
But the ultimate crapola moment came with the p.a. system's closing anthem: a tape of eighties rocker Patty Smyth singing, "Beating down the walls of heartache, bang bang... I am the Warrior."
W?T?F? They never played that song for O'Neill. Ever. When he came to bat, Roger Daltry screamed, "Out here in the fields... we fight for our meals..." Patty Smyth? OK, I know "The Warrior" became the Yankees promotional theme for the day. But who signed off on the song? They might as well have had the evil gang member in The Warriors clang two Coke bottles together and yell, "Warrior, come out and play-yay."
Dear God, did this happen because - say - Brian Cashman was a huge Patty Smyth fan?
He looks like a huge Patty Smyth fan.
Listen: No red-blooded Yankee fan wants to diss Paul O'Neill. He was and always will be a great Yankee. He might just be the next Rizzuto of the YES booth. But jeeze, these hokey salutes to ex-Yankees increasingly resemble PBS call-in benefit concerts, where The Turtles and the Grass Roots reunite to sell new Steiner Collectables, and this from a franchise with more money than Alaska.
Look... I'm glad Paul O'Neill now has a plaque in Monument Park. But we all can name a lot of players who also deserve one, and we know when our buttons are being pushed for a cheap extra buck. I don't want the Yankees to beat down my walls of heartache, bang bang.
Damn. I always hated that rancid song. Now, for the rest of my life, I'll associate Paul O'Neill - a great Yankee - with it. Dear God. What will they do with Bernie? I can hear it now... "We built this city... We built this city on rock n roll..."