Este 6 de julio, rendiremos tributo a la #Ley34nda 😎⚾
El número 34 será retirado de todas las organizaciones de la LMB; la Liga y sus 16 clubes celebrarán el Dïa de Fernando Valenzuela 💪🇲🇽 https://t.co/5e3EzWsewJ pic.twitter.com/6kLYKIzy8k
— LMB (@LigaMexBeis) April 30, 2019
On Tuesday, the Mexican League and its sixteen teams announced that they would be retiring the #34 league-wide. This move would be in honor of the great pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Fernando Valenzuela. Such moves are not unprecedented. Major League Baseball has had 42 retired for Jackie Robinson since 1997. There have also been calls to do the same to 21 for Roberto Clemente, though that seems unlikely. However, there is only one problem with the #34 retirement comes north of the border, and the Dodgers are to blame.
Fernando Valenzuela is the hero of the 1981 Dodgers and beloved on both sides of the border. Valenzuela is currently serving as a Spanish-language broadcaster with the Hall of Famer Jaime Jarrίn, Valenzeula. Known as “Fernandomania”, the ace of the Dodgers swept through the city and helped win them the World Series that season. Valenzuela ended up pitching 11 seasons for the Dodgers. Valenzuela’s career in blue was a 3.31 ERA in 331 games, with 107 complete games and 29 shutouts. His win-loss record was 141-116 and even boasted two saves. Most notably, Valenzeula no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals on June 29, 1990.
However, despite the success and Fernandomania, the Dodgers have not retired his #34. Like their rival Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the #34 is in a state of nothingness. It has never been given out in the 29 years since Valenzuela departed. The problem with this is the Dodgers are stubborn to this “in the Hall of Fame” requirement. Unfortunately, like many teams who held this policy, many are hypocritical. The Boston Red Sox used to have a rule of being in the National Baseball Hall of Fame to get their number retired. This was in spite of the fact that Johnny Pesky, who is not in the Hall of Fame, had his #6 retired in 2008.
The Dodgers are hypocritical themselves. Their late infielder from the Negro Leagues and later a coach for the rest of his life is not in the Hall of Fame. However, his #19 is retired by the Los Angeles Dodgers after his freak death by a cerebral hemorrhage. This is not meant to be an insult to Gilliam in any way. However, the fact that the Dodgers want to live by antiquated rules is angering. The Red Sox and the Seattle Mariners no longer do so. The Dodgers need to do the same.
Fernando Valenzuela may not be the best pitcher in Dodgers history (see Koufax, Sandy), but at the same time, he is still a legend. If the Dodgers do not intend to give another player the #34, then it is time to retire in Los Angeles, Hall of Fame or not. The Mexican League, who is doing a wonderful thing for one of their own, should not be beating the Los Angeles Dodgers to this event.
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