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Twinkle Toes Goes
2005-03-21 05:01
by Alex Belth
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Man, I hate to see to see a great player like Robbie Alomar go out like this, just 276 hits short of 3,000. His brilliant career came to a resounding thud the day he was traded to the Mets. Still, I'll always remember how he mashed Yankee pitching for years. And, of course, his acrobatic defensive work at second base. My favorite Alomar move was when he went far to his left, got his mitt on a grounder, and then like a spinning top, left his feet and rolled to his left, falling into right field, while being able to keep his balance long enough--as if temporarily being able to float--to make a perfect throw to first and nail the runner. It was as gorgeous a move as I ever remember seeing a second baseman make, and Alomar seemed to have the patent on it.

Tim Marchman has a fitting appreciation of Alomar in today' New York Sun:

Alomar, who retired at age 37 on Saturday, was an anachronism in an era when the game was dominated by monstrous, immobile hitters who did little but clout home runs and draw walks. He reminded you of how elegant the game could be, and there was nothing he didn't do with grace and ease: He consistently hit .320 with a beautiful line-drive stroke from both sides of the plate, provided legendary defense at second base, and displayed tremendous instincts while running the bases. He deserved to play on the biggest stage.

...There are many reasons why Alomar's true greatness isn't appreciated as it should be. He played a third of his career in a forgotten pitcher's era. He split most of his career more or less equally among four different teams. He's best-remembered for spitting on someone. He had no single outstanding skill; instead, his greatness was in the fact that he excelled in every facet of the game, including those that, as the saying goes, don't end up in the box score. All this obscures his true worth.

Statistically, Alomar was one of the six or so best second basemen in baseball history, below the level of Eddie Collins, Rogers Hornsby, Nap Lajoie, Joe Morgan, and Jackie Robinson, but equal or superior to everyone else. And he was better than his statistics: He was a heady, aggressive, intelligent player who made everyone around him better.

No matter how poorly his career ended, and in spite of his reputation as a sullen, difficult person, he's still a Hall of Famer to me. No?

Comments
2005-03-21 05:41:31
1.   Fuller R
He probably won't get first ballot for political reasons (spit), but he's the greatest fielder at second base I ever saw - I remember being astounded by his acrobatic ability when he came into the league (Padres, right?) Reminded me of Ozzie.

He was also a clutch hitter who put up some pretty good numbers.

Definitely a Hall of Famer.

2005-03-21 06:14:51
2.   Dan M
I once saw him take a cut-off throw from right, spin around, throw to third and nail a runner who had rounded the base too far. The beauty of it was that he hadn't looked at third at all - he did it on pure instinct. It was like the Jeter/Jeremy Giambi play without the element of luck that Jeter had.
2005-03-21 06:32:51
3.   rsmith51
I think that he is definitely a hall of famer. I guess the real question is are Biggio, Kent, and Alomar all HOFs? My opinion is that they all are.
I guess now Bobby Grich has NO chance of making the hall.
2005-03-21 11:53:23
4.   Matt B
It's amazing reading all these pundits questioning his Hall-worthiness. I mean, look at some of the stiffs in the HOF. You're gonna tell me Robby Alomar was the first guy who tailed off badly his last couple seasons or the only guy who got tabbed as selfish (by the media, of course)? At his peak (which, by the way, lasted about 13 freaking years), he was a flat-out unbelievable second baseman, unquestionably one of the very best to ever play. I do think Biggio and Kent will get in, too...and I wish people would come to their senses about Bobby Grich, but they haven't about Ron Santo, so....
2005-03-21 12:20:25
5.   Dan M
I think Kent is less of a sure thing (he got off to a later start), but he has that nice, shiny MVP award from 2000 that should go a long way with the voters.
2005-03-21 15:00:40
6.   Matt B
Yeah, Kent did get off to a later start and won't be a first ballot guy, but his total numbers and best years are very gaudy for a second baseman...and yes, the MVP.

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