Roberto Alomar's Hall of Fame Snub Is Another Heartbreak for Cleveland

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIIJanuary 6, 2010

1 Aug 1999:   Second baseman Roberto Alomar #12 of the Cleveland Indians sits dejectedly after an at-bat against the Chicago White Sox duirng their game at Jacobs Field in Cleveland, Ohio. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/ALLSPORT
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

It’s not often that we Cleveland fans have something to be proud of.

We’re the Mistake on the Lake; the city so dirty that our river caught fire, and so stupid that we didn’t learn our lesson the first time it happened.

A baby born the day the Indians last won the World Series would now be 61 years old. It’s been 56 seasons since we've had an MVP trophy to put on the mantle.

But today—today could have been different. Today, we could have had excitement. Today we could have had joy and exuberance and celebration.

Today, Roberto Alomar was snubbed in the BBWAA's vote for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

We might not be the first team other fans associate with Alomar, and it’s doubtful that our cap would have adorned his Hall of Fame plaque. After all, he spent only three seasons with the Tribe during his illustrious 17-year career.

But, with apologies to the Blue Jays and Orioles , his years in Cleveland were his best, and his significance to our city goes far beyond the 309 RBI and .902 OPS he earned while wearing a Chief Wahoo cap.

Alomar was an instant fan favorite when he touched down at Jacobs Field in 1999. He was a latecomer to the Indians’ glory days ride, but nevertheless became the face of the franchise almost immediately.

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Slotted into the No. 3 spot in the lineup, his swing—both smooth and powerful—was the perfect segue between the Tribe’s speedy small-ballers and looming long-ballers. When Kenny Lofton and Omar Vizquel set the table, Alomar had the pop to drive them in; if they failed, he could provide the spark himself ahead of Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome.

Then there was his glove—oh, what a glove! Seeing him teamed with Vizquel was proof that there exists some benevolent deity; each double play was beautiful, graceful, like a ballet.

But this snub isn’t just about Roberto Alomar; his rejection (or, at least, delayed acceptance) from the hallowed halls of Cooperstown is more than a dismissal of one of the greatest second basemen of all time.

It’s about our team, it’s about our history, it’s about our city. It’s about us.

Alomar could have, would have, and should have been the first player from the Tribe’s 1990s glory days crew to earn a spot in the Hall of Fame.

We didn’t win a World Series during that stretch. We didn’t set any major records or reach any important milestones. So when contention began to slip through our fingers after 2001, we were left with only our memories.

Today, that could have changed. With Alomar’s election, our beloved teams of yesteryear would have been immortalized as the launching pads for a Cooperstown-bound star.

Instead, we're just the same old Mistake on the Lake.

For a city so depressed about its baseball team, a city that spends the summer waiting for the Cavs to start, Alomar's election would have given us pride and joy as we remembered the days when we were proud to be Indians fans.

It’s not “Tribe Time” now, but it was then, and “then” wasn’t that long ago. To paraphrase another of our team’s slogans, we were all witnesses.

We could have used his induction as inspiration to relive the good old days; to remember a time when it was exciting to be a Cleveland fan, instead of wallowing in the sorrow today's Tribe brings us.

But instead of cheering for Robbie one last time, we're stuck with a misery so great that it rivals the suffering we felt at the hands of Jose Mesa.

Sure, Alomar will get in eventually—he's simply too good to be overlooked for too long. And ten years from now, he should be joined by a handful of his former teammates: Lofton, Vizquel, Ramirez, Thome, and maybe even Juan Gonzalez.

But I think I speak for all Clevelanders when I say that I'm tired of hearing "wait til' next year."


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