Here's my first-person account of my day with Roberto Alomar. I was the only person to be with Alomar for both years of his Hall of Fame "waiting day," if you will _ although, as you can see in the story, I wasn't quite in the same room with him when he got the big phone call this time.
By being on site for the festivities, I realized how big this day was not only for Alomar, but also for the Blue Jays.
Toronto was a great baseball city...until the 1994 strike. Since then, the Jays haven't made the playoffs, and they generally haven't drawn well.
By aligning themselves with Alomar, who will probably get his wish of wearing a Blue Jays cap on his Hall of Fame plaque, the Jays won't solve the "missing the playoffs" problem, although they appear to be on the right track there.
But Alomar's triumph will at least fill some seats and generate some excitement about the team; I bet a nice segment of die-hards make the reasonable drive from Toronto to Cooperstown in July. After all, revenue from nostalgia-based excitement comes in the same currency as playoff-contention-based excitement.
Yesterday, after Alomar received the phone call but before the news became public, he already was discussing plans with the Blue Jays for a day in his honor. A bobblehead doll giveaway. Maybe retiring his uniform number 12. There was a great deal of happiness and anticipation in that home clubhouse.
Alomar himself, meanwhile? He's going to make a fortune. I flew with him and a few other people last night from Toronto back to New York, on a Citation X. Alomar spent the entire hour signing photos of himself making a great defensive play (in his Blue Jays uniform) at old Yankee Stadium.
He has a crazy schedule this week - plenty of media today in New York, a special Hall of Fame dinner tonight in Manhattan, more stuff in New York Friday and Saturay. On Sunday, he'll fly to his native Puerto Rico, and on Monday, Museo del Deporte will unveil a statue of him. From what Alomar has been told, the statue will portray him "flying" above second base, presumably turning a 6-4-3 double play.
It's going to be an extremely busy year for Alomar, and for Bert Blyleven, too. Alomar played for seven teams, Blyleven for five (I assume he'll wear a Twins logo on his plaque) and Veterans Committee inductee Pat Gillick worked as the general manager for four teams. Together, the trio covers 13 teams (Arizona, Baltimore, Cleveland, the White Sox, the Angels, Minnesota, the Mets, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Seattle, Texas and Toronto). Throw in Frick Award winner Dave Van Horne (Florida), and that's 14 teams that could conceivably honor their affiliated inductees and profit from the Hall.
How many actually will hold special days? We know the Blue Jays will hold a day for Alomar, and I bet they do another one for Gillick. The Phillies, too, have to honor Gillick, since he built the 2008 champions. The Twins will for Blyleven. Probably Pittsburgh, too, since Blyleven won the 1979 World Series.
Maybe the Indians could try to coordinate a day where both Alomar and Blyleven attend? They're the one club that employed both men. And the Marlins surely will for Van Horne.
All of this is a roundabout way of reiterating what serious business the Hall of Fame is. Serious business demands a serious process. Which is why, even when I don't agree with all of my fellow voters, I'm glad most put a good amount of time and thought into it.
--Alomar was very curious not only about his own votes, but the rest of the ballot, too: Who went up, who went down. He seemed particularly disappointed that his countryman and former Indians teammate Juan Gonzalez didn't do better.
--The Cardinals and Albert Pujols are negotiating a contract extension, and you'd have to think this gets done. With the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies all having long-term commitments to first basemen, where could Pujols go next winter for huge money, anyway?
--The Angels and Vladimir Guerrero could reunite, now that Guerrero won't be returning to Texas. Even if they sign Guererro, the Angels still will have experienced a pretty brutal offseason.
--Off to the Alomar/Blyleven news conference. I'll check in later.