It's a reasonable hypothesis that one awful night caused Roberto Alomar to wait one long year for Hall of Fame induction. The second baseman saw his support increase from 73.7 percent in 2010 - eight votes short of the necessary 75 percent - to 90 percent, making him Cooperstown-bound on Wednesday.
It appears that some segment of Baseball Writers Association of America voters punished Alomar temporarily for spitting at umpire John Hirschbeck on Sept. 27, 1996.
But that wasn't Alomar's only black mark. Some voters also took note of Alomar's decline when he became a Met in 2002 and questioned his effort.
On his big day, Alomar took exception to that criticism.
"There was a lot of speculation, people saying I never cared about playing in New York. That I was dogging it in New York," Alomar told BBWAA members in a conference call. "I want to say that I really loved playing in New York. The team, we didn't click together. We didn't play well together. I was the kind of guy who went out and played every day. We didn't do as well as we wanted to."
The Indians traded Alomar to the Mets after the 2001 season, and Alomar became an all-time Mets flop. He dropped from a .415 on-base percentage and .541 slugging percentage with Cleveland in 2001 to .331 and .376 with the Mets in 2002. He played only a touch better in 2003, .336 and .357, before the Mets traded him to the White Sox in July. Alomar's career concluded in spring training of 2005.
As for the Hirschbeck incident, Alomar long ago made peace with the umpire, and Hirschbeck has publicly campaigned for Alomar's Hall of Fame inclusion. Alomar planned to call Hirschbeck Wednesday night or Thursday to thank him for his support.
"We are human beings," Alomar said. "We let the temper take over sometimes. It was one of the bad moments I had. I regret every bit of it. People should talk abut the positive things, not the negative things. I feel good that I had a good relationship with John and we both moved on."