Hall of Fame 2010: Roberto Alomar

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roberto alomar indians.jpgThe first alphabetically of the 26 players on the 2010 Hall of Fame ballot might also be the most qualified. Even with his stunning decline during the early portion of the decade, Roberto Alomar ranks first in the group in both the Bill James HOF Monitor and the HOF Standards list. He was named to 12 straight All-Star teams, he holds a major league record with 10 Gold Gloves at second base and he was one of the driving forces on the Blue Jays’ back-to-back championship teams in 1992-93.
It should be a slam dunk, even though there are arguments against Alomar. The numbers suggest he was somewhat overrated defensively for much of his career. He never led his league in a Triple Crown category or won an MVP award. He turned into a liability immediately after his age-33 season, something one hardly expects to see from a Hall of Famer.
And it’s all true. But he’s still clearly better than several of the 17 second basemen currently in the Hall of Fame. The real argument is whether he’s in the top 10 all-time at his position.
Alomar never won a batting crown, but he did finish in the top seven in his league five times and he wrapped his career with a .300 average. He had five seasons with a .400 OBP and four with a .500 SLG. He scored 130 runs twice. He once had an 120-RBI season. He had eight 30-steal campaigns, and he was successful on 81 percent of his career attempts. In 263 postseason at-bats, he hit .313/.381/.448 with 20 steals in 22 attempts.
His best finishes in the AL MVP balloting were a tie for third in 1999 and fourth in 2001. In 1999, he had 41 points of OPS, 22 runs scored and seven RBI on winner Ivan Rodriguez. However, many will argue that it should have been Pedro Martinez’s award. In 2001, he had 118 points of OPS and 31 RBI on winner Ichiro Suzuki, though he did score 14 fewer runs.
Yet that was it. After being traded from the Indians to the Mets following the 2001 season, Alomar hit .262/.331/.367 with 116 RBI in 1,277 at-bats over three seasons. He signed with the Rays prior to 2005, but he retired during spring training.
Fortunately, Alomar was able to establish himself as an above average regular at age 20 and did more than enough in his first 14 seasons to establish his credentials. If he isn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer, then the John Hirschbeck spitting incident will deserve much of the credit. Alomar doesn’t quite measure up with Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby and Joe Morgan when it comes to the all-time second basemen, but he falls in somewhere in the 7-12 range, and as such, he clearly belongs in Cooperstown.

The Braves are banning outside food. And they’re probably lying about why they’re doing it.

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Here’s a thing a lot of people don’t realize: there are a lot of ballparks that allow you to bring in outside food.

Not all of them, but a lot do. They don’t publicize it, obviously, because they want you to buy their expensive food, but if you go to the concessions policy page on most team’s websites, you can get the scoop. It often lists “soft-sided coolers” under “permitted items,” which is code for “yes, you can bring your own food in.” Some may specifically limit THAT to sealed plastic water bottles, but for the most part, if you can bring soft-sided coolers into the park, that means it’s OK to bring in grandma’s potato salad and a few sandwiches. They may check your coolers, of course, to make sure you’re not bringing in alcohol or whatever.

The Atlanta Braves have always allowed food into the ballpark. But thats going to change in shiny new Sun Trust Park. The AJC reports that the Braves have announced a new policy via which ticket holders will not be allowed to bring in outside food. Exceptions will be made for infant food and for special dietary restriction items.

Which, OK, it’s their park and their rules. If they want to cut out the PB&J for junior and force you to buy him a $9 “kids pack” — or if they want you to forego grandma’s potato salad to buy that pork chop sandwich we mentioned yesterday — that’s their choice. Everything else about the Braves new stadium has been about extracting money from fans, so why not the concessions policy too?

My beef with this is less about the policy. It’s about their stated reason for it:

The changes are a result of tighter security being put into place this season throughout the league, said the Braves spokesperson.

This, as the French say, is horses**t.

We know it is because not all teams are prohibiting outside food. If there are tighter security measures across the board, other teams are implementing them without the food restriction. Even the Yankees, who take security theater to extreme heights as it is, are still allowing fans to bring in their own food.

The Braves, I strongly suspect, are using these measures as an excuse to cut down on competition for their concessions. Which, like I said, go for it. Just be honest about what you’re doing and stop blaming “tightened security” for your cash grab.

Yadier Molina says Adam Jones “has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people”

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After the U.S. won the World Baseball Classic on Wednesday night, Adam Jones told a reporter that he and his teammates were motivated in part by the fact that Puerto Rico already had championship t-shirts printed up and plans for a parade/celebration in Puerto Rico in place beforehand.

Which, OK, whatever you need to motivate you, Adam, but all of that seems complicated by the fact that (a) ALL teams playing for a championship have pre-printed gear, thus enabling them to be put on moments after the final out; and (b) Puerto Rico’s celebration plans were not contingent on winning or losing. In fact, they went ahead and had a parade/celebration even though they lost. The WBC was a big deal to them in ways it simply wasn’t to the U.S., so it makes sense.

Yadier Molina of Team Puerto Rico did not take kindly to Jones’ comments. He tells ESPN Deportes this:

“Adam Jones … is talking about things he doesn’t know about,” Molina told ESPN. “He really has to get informed because he shouldn’t have said those comments, let alone in public and mocking the way [preparations] were made . . . He has to apologize to the Puerto Rican people,” Molina said. “Obviously, you wanted to win; he didn’t know what this means to [our] people.”

Kind of a messy little controversy, eh?

My feeling about it is that Jones probably didn’t know the whole story about Puerto Rico’s plans and misinterpreted celebration for arrogance. I also suspect that most players motivate themselves in all manner of irrational ways like this, but we just don’t hear about it all that much. Jones can do whatever he wants to psych himself up, but it changes the equation a bit when you talk about it to the press. Perceived slights that an athlete uses internally can seem petty once exposed to the light of day.

Either way: Jones does not have a reputation for being insulting or disrespectful, so I seriously doubt that was his intent here. I also think that, while Molina has a right to be miffed, the “he must apologize to the Puerto Rican people” thing is laying it on a bit thick. Maybe Jones can just text Molina and some P.R. players and say he was sorry, followed by a “we’re all good, man” and this can end? That makes the most sense.

If not, well, the Orioles do play the Cardinals in an interleague series this summer, so maybe we’ll see some fireworks.