Yesterday afternoon the Toronto Blue Jays announced that they had chosen soon-to-be Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar’s #12 to become the franchise’s first retired number.
I may have a little bit of difficulty putting on the rose coloured glasses when it comes to Alomar’s supposedly sterling defense, but I can’t dismiss what he meant to the Blue Jays during his five year stint in Toronto, which included two World Series Championship seasons. However, I feel a little “meh” on the whole number retirement thing.
I think my feelings are best summed up by a man whose work you may be familiar with, DJF’s Andrew Stoeten, who wrote the following last night:
It was announced this afternoon that the biggest honour a club can give to a player has been bestowed by the Jays onto Edwin Encarnacion, Luis Lopez, Willie Greene, Tony Phillips, Tilson Brito, Rich Butler and Ernie Whitt, as their #12 jersey will be retired by the club.
Oh, and Roberto Alomar.
While no one would suggest that Alomar wasn’t a great player and a huge contributor to those championship teams, I can’t get over the fact that he only played for five seasons here. I know it’s a rare phenomenon in the modern game, but shouldn’t jersey retirements be equally as rare as a player playing a large percentage of his career for the team that’s retiring his jersey number?
And doesn’t Toronto already have the Level Of Excellence for this type of thing?
I understand the thinking behind it: Alomar represents the organizations first Hall Of Famer, and as such, he deserves an honour above and beyond any other Blue Jays player.
And besides, it’s not really worth getting all bent out of shape over, is it? So, let’s move on, and check out this Hardball Times post by Chris Jaffe that creates a timeline for important events in Alomar’s career. Here are some of the more important Blue Jays-centric ones that made the cut:
- May 10, 1991: Roberto Alomar has possibly the greatest day of his career. In fact, according to WPA, it’s the best game every by any Blue Jay. He goes 3-for-4 with two home runs and two walks against the White Sox. The first home run is a solo shot that ties the game 2-2 with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. The other home run again ties the game, 3-3 in the 11th. Alas, the Blue Jays lose anyway, 5-3 (12), despite Alomar’s 1.037 WPA.
- Oct. 11, 1992: ALCS Game Four: The Blue Jays top the A’s 7-6 in 11 innings, largely thanks to Roberto Alomar. With Toronto trailing 6-1 after seven innings, Alomar doubles and steals third in the eighth inning to spark a three-run Toronto inning. In the ninth, he bashes a two-run home run off uber-closer Dennis Eckersley to tie the game. In all, Alomar goes 4-for-5 with a walk, double, and home run.
- Oct. 24, 1992: World Series Game Six: One of the most underrated World Series ever comes to an appropriate end: a dramatic extra inning game. In the bottom of the ninth, Toronto is one out from its first world title when Otis Nixon singles home a run to tie it, 2-2. Two innings later, Alomar singles and scores. It’s one of two runs that inning for Toronto, who stave off a desperate Atlanta rally in the bottom of the 11th to win, 4-3. Roberto Alomar is a world champion.
- June 18, 1993: Speedy Roberto Alomar nails his only career inside the park home run during an 11-2 win over Boston at the Skydome.
- Oct. 23, 1993: World Series Game Six: It’s one of the most famous games in history as Joe Carter ends the World Series with a walk-off three-run home run for the second consecutive Toronto world title. Blue Jay manager Cito Gaston put Alomar in the #6 slot in the batting order [Editorial Note: Oy!], instead of his normal spot as a table-setter. In this different slot, Roberto Alomar goes 3-for-4 with a double. On defense he commits an error. In the first inning, Alomar laces an RBI single to help give Toronto an early lead. In the fourth he belts a leadoff double and then comes around to score.
- July 2, 1995: Tales from the creepy: police arrest a woman with a .22 caliber pistol in Toronto’s SkyDome Hotel. She had previously threatened to kill Alomar because she couldn’t “establish a relationship” with him.
I really encourage you to check out the whole list at The Hardball Times.
And also, this isn’t too shabby, either: