Throughout my checkered youth sports career, I always wore the No. 7. Why? Because Ron Jaworski wore the same number, and he was my favorite football player when I was a kid. It was my way of emulating him, and the number stuck with me. Now, I emulate him by growing out a luxurious mustache and hating Tony Kornheiser.
The newest member of the New York Yankees also wears a number that’s a tribute to a childhood sports hero. Alfredo Aceves grew up watching the Chicago Bulls during their championship run, and his uniform number reflects the player who fascinated him. No, he’s not going to be No. 23: he tells the NEW YORK TIMES he’s wearing No. 91 in honor of Dennis Rodman.
Aceves was just called up from Triple A to help shore up the Yankees’ bullpen during their playoff drive. (Now, don’t laugh - it’s rude. They still think they can make the playoffs and who are you to crush their dreams.) The book on him is that although he has good stuff, what makes him so effective is his mental approach and how he mixes up his pitches to get in batters’ heads.
His minor-league catcher mentions that Aceves “doesn’t have any patterns,” which makes him difficult to hit against. I must say, that certainly doesn’t sound like Rodman, who seems to have a definite pattern: show up at C-list celebrity event, grope waitress/hostess/bartender/random person, get arrested, repeat.
For his part, Acevas swears that he’s “not nuts,” but when you wear Dennis Rodman’s number, people are going to wonder. But I guess wearing No. 91 is a better than Aceves’ original planned tribute to The Worm: spreading herpes.