Mike at “Charlie Weis Ate My Baby” wrote this about Paul O’Neill today:
I imagine that Red Sox fans enjoyed 2004 much like I enjoyed the 1998 Yankees. There were a lot of similarities between those two clubs, except the Yankees had a bit more class and a bunch more Paul O’Neill.
Easily the most important New York Yankee of the last 25 years. More than Jeter, more than Rivera, more than Bernie. Number of Yankees World Series Championships since Big Paulie hung up the spikes after the 2001 season: zero.
Sounds like Mike digs Paulie-O.
Quick sidebar: Once I was at a Yankees game with my friend Lou in 2001. A guy sitting near us would scream out “String cheeeeese!” every time O’Neill came to the plate. We didn’t get it – at first. Finally, after hearing it a few times, Lou says to me “Oh, now I get it. ‘String Cheese,’ like in ‘Polly-O String Cheese‘ – ‘Paulie-Oh,’ get it?” (Stupid the things you remember, right? Anyway, that’s why this entry got the title that it did.)
Back to the present day, a few months back, a met a woman who said she was a Yankees fan. We started talking about the recent teams and I brought up O’Neill. At that moment, she added “Oh, him – the cry-baby who would throw a fit every time he didn’t get his way.”
Right there, I thought, even though she said she was a Yankees fan, that she knew as much about the Yankees as I do on quantum physics – which is nothing.
You see, I too am a fan of O’Neill. As I shared back in November 2005, “I’ve always been drawn to the Munson-Mattingly-O’Neill types. I like guys who are leaders, work hard, play with passion, not afraid, etc.” in terms of having a favorite Yankee.
However, regardless of my feelings, there’s always been that split on O’Neill – see Wikipedia for a good take on it:
O’Neill is fondly remembered by Yankee fans as the “heart and soul” of the team’s dynasty in the 1990s. Yankee owner George Steinbrenner also labeled him as a “Warrior”. Naturally, however, to non Yankee fans and especially the Red Sox Nation, his antics were seen in a more negative light which led to being labeled a [sic] ‘whinger’, ‘spoiled brat’ and ‘crybaby’. In January 2007, Bill Simmons, an ESPN sportswriter and unrepentant Red Sox fan, referred to O’Neill as a “dick” in an ESPN online chat.
So, thinking about it now, I do wonder if there are more people out there like that woman I once met? Do any Yankees fans out there feel that O’Neill was a “crybaby”? Or, are most of you like me and Mike (from “Charlie Weis Ate My Baby“)? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section here. Thanks in advance!