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"You spend your life gripping a baseball and it turns out it was the other way around all the time."
-------Jim Bouton

The real story from last night's game was all about a former Blue Jay. Roberto Alomar made two errors in the top of the 1st, struck out looking in the bottom of the inning and then came out of the game.

It was Alomar's first game after missing a week with back problems, and he told Lou Piniella last night that he was having difficulty seeing. Speculation is rife that he will announce his retirement later today.

If true, it brings a remarkable career to a sad and sudden end. Just three years ago, Alomar was on the fast track to the Hall of Fame, and 3000 hits looked to be within easy reach. He still looks eminently well-qualified to me, but his selection may not be as automatic as it once seemed.

Most players do not get to retire from the game - instead, the game retires them. If Alomar is indeed done, of the 38 men who played for Toronto's last World Series champion in 1993, only five are certain be active in 2005. And two of those five, Shawn Green and Carlos Delgado, were September call-ups in September 2003. They went a combined 0-7 and were not part of the post-season roster. Woody Williams was a rookie in 1993; he made 30 appearances out of the bullpen and was not used in the post-season.

The only men who participated in the 1993 post-season and are still active this season are Al Leiter and Mike Timlin. Leiter was the swing man in 1993, filling in for first Stewart, then Stottlemyre, and then Morris in the rotation; he pitched long relief when all five starters were on board. Timlin was the sixth man in the pen that year, behind Ward, Cox, Castillo, Eichhorn, and Leiter.

It's safe to say that if you had asked anyone in 1993 who on the Toronto team was most likely to still be a productive major leaguer in 2005, two names would have been mentioned by everyone: the 25 year old second baseman, who had just hit .326 with 17 HR and 93 RBI and won another Gold Glove; and the 24 year old first baseman, who had led the league in hitting at .363.

See, it's like Yogi always says: in baseball, you don't know nothing.

Alomar may yet be back. For that matter, John Olerud hasn't officially retired yet. Pat Borders has a minor league deal, and could pop up again. And Rickey Henderson, Doug Linton, and - who knows - the immortal Luis Sojo could still make one final curtain call. As unlikely as it may seem.

But as we speak, here's how it ended for everybody.

For one of the World Series champs, it actually ended well before the World Series:

1. Ken Dayley, Apr 14, 1993 - he faced two Seattle batters, allowed a BB and a 2B. Never pitched again. Never could overcome his sudden problem with vertigo.

2. Domingo Martinez, Oct 3, 1993 - pinch hit for Olerud in the season finale, stayed in at 1B, went 1-3. This was also the last regular season game for both Alfredo Griffin and and Willie Canate. Martinez signed with the White Sox in 1994, but never played for them.

3. Willie Canate, Oct 21, 1993 - pinch ran for Borders in the 8th inning of Game 5. Thrown out at home trying to score on a comebacker to the mound, with the Jays down 2-0.

4. Alfredo Griffin, Oct 23, 1993 - pinch ran for Olerud in the 8th inning of Game 6 as the tying run. He made it as far as third, but was stranded. Stayed in the game to play 3B. He was in the on-deck circle when Carter hit his HR. I remember looking at him when the count went to 2-2 and thinking "I hope Coles is getting loose."

5. Jack Morris, Aug 7, 1994 - pitching for Cleveland and was roughed up for 9 hits and 7 R in 3.1 IP, but Indians rallied to win. The strike hit before the week was over.

6. Duane Ward, Jun 22, 1995 - just his 4th appearance since the World Series finale in 1993. They were all disastrous. This night, he retired just 1 of 6 hitters. Went back to the DL, and never pitched in the majors again.

7. Dave Stewart, Jul 17, 1995 - back with Oakland, gave up 8 R in 2 IP, taking the loss and falling to 3-7 6.89 on the season. Called it a career.

8. Danny Cox, Sep 18, 1995 - three days shy of his 36th birthday, he had battled arm problems for the last 8 years of his career; Cito Gaston somehow squeezed one effective season out of him. Cox relieved Jeff Ware with a 1-0 lead, and allowed 3 in the 7th and 5 in the 8th. Took the loss.

9. Mark Eichhorn, Sep 14, 1996 - with his Angels down 4-3 in the 7th, Eichhorn came in with 1 on and none out. Gave up a hit and 3 BB. Didn't get into another game that year.

10. Dick Schofield, Sep 29, 1996 - finished up with the Angels, where he started. Played 2b in season finale and went 1-3.

11. Darnell Coles, May 22, 1997 - played briefly for the Rockies in 1997. He finished this game at 3B and singled against Doug Henry. Sold to Hanshin the next day.

12. Huck Flener, Jul 28, 1997 - started Game 2 of DH against Mil, came out trailing 4-2 in 3rd. Took the loss. An eye injury ended his career before he ever made it back.

13. Scott Brow, May 31, 1998 - worked a scoreless 6th against SF and left for a PH. Arizona traded him to the Yankees 3 days later, and he never pitched in the majors again.

14. Tony Castillo, Jun 19, 1998 - he was one of my favourites, and his swan song was awful. Grisly and Horrible. He walked 2, hit another, and gave up a 3-run HR to Matt Lawton. The White Sox released him two days later.

15. Paul Molitor, Sep 27, 1998 - Went 2-4 in the Twins' season finale. He then retired, full of honour and glory, and is the first man from this group to make it to the Hall of Fame.

16. Joe Carter, Sep 28, 1998 - Traded by the Orioles to the Giants at the deadline, suddenly got up and played like the young Joe Carter. Helped get the Giants into a one-game playoff with the Cubs. Alas, he went 0-4 and made the final out as the Giants lost. Retired as planned.

17. Rob Butler, Jul 10, 1999 - after some difficult personal problems waylaid his career, returned to his hometown team briefly for Jim Fregosi. This night he went 0-1 as a PH, batting for John Frascatore in the 5th.

18. Domingo Cedeno, Sep 10, 1999 - utility infielder made his final ML appearance as a batter. He struck out pinch-hitting as a Phillie against Randy Johnson.

19. Darrin Jackson, Oct 3, 1999 - finished up with the White Sox, going 0-2 against Eric Milton in season finale. May have gone back to play in Japan, I can't remember.

20.Juan Guzman, Apr 7, 2000 - in his one career start for Tampa, allowed 7 H and 8 R in 1.2 IP. His arm was done. Took the loss. Tampa paid him 12 million over 2000 and 2001, and that was the only game he pitched for them.

21. Turner Ward, July 27, 2001 - came off the Phillies bench to pinch hit for Cliff Politte, and was hit by Steve Trachsel. Phils acquired Felipe Crespo the next day. Overwhelmed by Blue Jays, he never played in the majors again.

22. Randy Knorr, Sep 9, 2001 - Went 0-1 as a pinch-hitter, didn't get into another game with the Expos.

23.Devon White, Oct 5, 2001 - I don't even remember him as a Brewer. He went 1-3 in the Friday game against Albie Lopez, and then didn't play in the final two games.

24. Ed Sprague, Oct 7, 2001 - came off the Seattle bench and went 0-1 as a pinch-hitter in season finale.

25. Tony Fernandez, Oct 7, 2001 - Went 0-1 as a pinch-hitter in season finale, after a graceful final lap as a pinch hitter.

26. Todd Stottlemyre, Jun 26, 2002 - His arm was falling off, but they loved him in Arizona. Made it back to work 1 scoreless IP in relief of the Big Unit in a 9-1 victory, and went back to the DL for good.

27. Doug Linton, Apr 18, 2003. Gave up a 2-run HR to Doug Mirabelli in 8th inning of 7-3 loss to Boston.

28. Rickey Henderson, Sep 19, 2003 - batted for Guillermo Mota as a Dodger. Was hit by pitch, came around to score. Just like he always did. Will be the next Hall of Famer from this group, unless he's leading off for Arizona or someone.

29. Luis Sojo, Sep. 28, 2003 - Finished game as Yankee 1B in season finale.

30. Pat Hentgen, Jul 21, 2004 - Gave up 7 H and 8 R against Yankees and retired before the week was over. Took the loss.

31. Pat Borders, Oct 9, 2004 - He caught the final 3 innings of Minnesota's last playoff game. Still willing to strap on the gear.

32. John Olerud, Oct. 20, 2004. After missing three games with a foot injury, he pinch hit, struck out, and finished up the LCS at 1B for the Yankees. Future uncertain at this point. The foot injury was a problem all winter.

The pitchers, in particular, almost all came to nasty ends. Dave Stewart, Huck Flener, Pat Hentgen, and Juan Guzman each lost their final ML start - and Stewart, Guzman, and Hentgen were pounded in those games. Jack Morris would have lost his as well if Cleveland hadn't scored 15 runs to get him off the hook. Danny Cox blew a save and took a loss. Ken Dayley, Tony Castillo, Mark Eichhorn, and Duane Ward all got shelled. Todd Stottlemyre and Scott Brow are the only guys who didn't allow a run.

None of the three long-time major league shortstops played shortstop in their final game: Griffin was at 3B, Schofield at 2B, and Fernandez was a pinch-hitter.

The only members of the 1993 Phillies still active last year were Todd Pratt and Curt Schilling.

Clearly, the best finish belongs to Paul Molitor with a couple of hits. Honourable mentions can go to Joe Carter (his fine play in a close pennant race somewhat eases the pain of a very disappointing final game) and Alfredo Griffin (just because he was waiting at home plate to greet Carter after the Series-ending homer.)

Age During Final Game

21 (1)- Willie Canate
26 (1)- Domingo Martinez
28 (1)- Huck Flener
29 (2)- Scott Brow, Rob Butler
30 (1)- Domingo Cedeno
31 (1)- Duane Ward
32 (1)- Randy Knorr
33 (2)- Dick Schofield, Juan Guzman
34 (3)- Ken Dayley, Darnell Coles, Ed Sprague
35 (4)- Danny Cox, Mark Eichhorn, Tony Castillo, Pat Hentgen
36 (4)- Alfredo Griffin, Turner Ward, Roberto Alomar, John Olerud
37 (2)- Darrin Jackson, Todd Stottlemyre
38 (5)- Dave Stewart, Joe Carter, Devon White, Doug Linton, Luis Sojo
39 (2)- Jack Morris, Tony Fernandez
41 (1)- Pat Borders
42 (1)- Paul Molitor
44 (1)- Rickey Henderson

If Alomar never plays again, he finished his career going 0-2 as a DH last September 5, and then being pinch hit for by Timo Perez.

Jays 5, Devil Rays 4 | 16 comments | Create New Account
The following comments are owned by whomever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 09:02 AM EST (#106678) #
Knorr has been playing in AAA for the last few years and could conceivably see MLB pitching again if some team has a rash of catching injuries.

Excellent stuff, Magpie!
Grimlock - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 09:30 AM EST (#106679) #
Who can ever forget the home run in Game 4 against the then unstoppable Dennis Eckersley? At the time, the biggest HR in franchise history. Robbie should be the first in the Hall to wear the Blue Jay on his cap. Feel the taste!
BallGuy - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 10:17 AM EST (#106680) #
That Robbie homerun was so memorable as was his mocking Braves' 'chop' as he jogged to homeplate in the World Series against Atlanta as were his many plays made in right field as he threw out a runner at first as were his many stolen bases (I'll always remember how he held his left arm, slightly bent, frozen in mid-air just before he took off for second) as were his.....Ahh, there were so many great plays.
He was terrific. I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame.
Jordan - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 10:17 AM EST (#106681) #
Magpie, that's a keeper. It read like one of those end-of-college-movie montages explaining where Bluto et al eventually ended up, only much better. :-)

IIRC, Devo ended up with the Brew Crew after a swap of terrible contracts with the Dodgers; LA ended up with Marquis Grissom, and who knew he'd go on to a sort of career revival afterwards?

More than a few Jays fans like to rip Alomar, citing his free-agency departure, his sitting-out-to-reach-.300, and of course, The Spit. None of these are reasons for long-term vilification: Alomar and Hirschbeck buried that hatchet and Robbie donated a lot of money to Hirschbeck's charity for his child, and if Hirschbeck can let it go, so should the fans. This team's followers have a bad habit of turning on their fallen heroes -- hello, Kelly Gruber -- and it's not attractive.

Alomar is a lock for the Hall of Fame, and deservedly so. Maybe his spectacular plays oversold his defensive abilities a little, but you don't win 10 Gold Gloves by accident. He was an 11-time All-Star and finished in the top ten of MVP voting 5 times -- a remarkable achievement for a middle infielder. He had power, he had speed, and he was one of the smartest players I've seen on a diamond. Who's been a better second baseman from 1980 to 2000? Craig Biggio? He'll walk into Cooperstown five years after he retires. There's nobody else.

Blue Jays fans should fondly remember Alomar just for the homer off Eckersley alone -- with all due respect to Joe Carter and Ed Sprague, that was the most important hit in franchise history. That he did so much more for the team and the city should make us all grateful he played for our favourite club and sad that his career could be ending so poorly.
H Winfield Teut - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 10:42 AM EST (#106682) #
Randy Knorr is on the coaching staff for Savannah this year, his playing days are done, unless he sneaks into a few as a player coach.
costanza - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 11:14 AM EST (#106683) #
Feel the taste

I believe it was "Catch the taste!" :)

Hey, Roberto Alomar, what's the best pitcher you've ever faced?

"The one with the McCain punch!"

Ah, such memories...

Speaking of memories, loved the article, Magpie (even moreso than usual). One minor nitpick -- I believe Domingo Martinez was actually traded for Mike Huff.

VBF - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 11:32 AM EST (#106684) #
Great work, Magpie. Sad how some of those careers ended.

Don't mean to get off topic but Batista sets an all-time level of optimism

We're still at the stage where we're seeing how I'll respond physically, and soon we'll have to see how I pitch on back to back games," said Batista, who has set lofty goals. "I'm looking for 50 saves, not just 20 or 30. Fifty saves. . . . That's the only way you get a team into the playoffs.

Pepper Moffatt - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 12:04 PM EST (#106685) #
Fifty saves. . . . That's the only way you get a team into the playoffs.

Somebody tell that to the 7 teams who made the playoffs last year who didn't have a closer who saved 50 games. Mariano Rivera was the only pitcher in the majors to save 50 last season.

I'll be pleasantly surprised if Batista saves 30. Heck, I'd be surprised if he's still the closer at the end of the season.

Mylegacy - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 12:14 PM EST (#106686) #
Magpie, great work.

Jordan's right. The bomb by Alomar, that was IT!
Flex - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 12:35 PM EST (#106688) #
I remember always watching Duane Ward warming up in the bullpen, windmilling his arm with a cannonball in his hand, and wondering how in the heck his shoulder was not being shredded. Turned out it was.

And Guzman. He must have had the most arm-punishing delivery ever. He had all this power in his legs, and he would send his lower body hurtling forward and force his shoulder and arm to catch up, against all the laws of physics. I knew for him too it was going to be an early end.

Thanks for the great piece.
NDG - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 01:40 PM EST (#106701) #
I agree with Jordan on how Alomar is seen here. He was a great, great player here and I don't understand the villification.

The thing I remember most about Alomar was that in those glory years, he never got out when the game was on the line. I know many studies show there is no such thing as clutch hitters, but Alomar is the only guy I've ever seen that I truly believe was clutch. Maybe one day when I've got nothing to do I'll go through Retrosheet to (dis)prove my theory.
Dan H - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 02:14 PM EST (#106705) #
AP is reporting Alomar's retirement. I hope he's remembered by Toronto fans for his contributions to the team, and not the negative aspects that have been mentioned. It was always fun to watch him play.

Magpie - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 02:55 PM EST (#106709) #
One minor nitpick -- I believe Domingo Martinez was actually traded for Mike Huff.

Indeed he was. Poor Domingo. Goes from behind John Olerud to behind Frank Thomas.

Alomar's sudden decline still puzzles me - he went right off a cliff. He was a great player in 2001, a worthy MVP candidate. He turned 34 and suddenly became his father. Some of it may have been changing leagues, some of it may have been moving to Shea Stadium (a park notorious for its poor visibility, and Alomar says his eyes are going.) But such a drastic drop-off...

Maybe it's the curse of switch-hitting second baseman born in Puerto Rico in 1968. Carlos Baerga was also traded from Cleveland to the Mets and was never the same player again either.

This is really, really weird, now that I think about it.

John Northey - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 03:29 PM EST (#106714) #
I wonder if Alomar has ever had laser eye surgery. I know of people who had their eyes screwed up for years because of it (Ian Leggatt, the golfer from Cambridge, ON, is a good example - he had to have them redo it at least 2 or 3 times), along with others who loved it. Alomar might just need glasses but refuses to consider it, or he might (hopefully not) have the same problem Kirby Puckett had where he lost his eyesite.

Alomar was a guy I was hoping the Jays would trade for in 1990 and then was everything I hoped he'd be once Gillick pulled the trigger (still have the newspaper from the day of the trade). Funny that Alomar and McGriff will be on the same Hall ballot if no one give McGriff a shot at 500. Shame that the Jays, in 1994 & 1995 under Gord Ash, decided to wait and see with Alomar rather than resign right away. Who knows, back in 1998 (282/347/418) he might have pushed the Jays over the top (4 games behind Boston for wild card, Grebeck (256/327/346) & Fernandez (321/387/459) were the starters at second, with Alomar Fernandez would've been at 3B rather than Ed Sprague (238/301/424) in the first half). Also might have prevented the Clemens for Wells/Bush/etc trade in the 98/99 offseason, leading to Clemens being a Jay in the HOF :)

Yes, I do enjoy dreaming.
Willy - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 05:48 PM EST (#106729) #
"More than a few Jays fans like to rip Alomar, citing ... and of course, The Spit. ... Alomar and Hirschbeck buried that hatchet and Robbie donated a lot of money to Hirschbeck's charity for his child, and if Hirschbeck can let it go, so should the fans." [Jordan]

Yes, the whole Spit business was sadly overdone in Toronto, I think. I remember reading a few weeks after the incident about Hirschbeck having serious emotional/mental 'lapses'--such that at least a couple of times he was aggressively confrontational with players, most flagrantly so with a Latin pitcher for, I think, the Dodgers. Went out to the mound and racially berated him or some such. The point is that the spitting incident took two to make, and I always felt that Alomar got zero tolerance in the matter; and possibly Hirschbeck got some unwarranted sympathy extended to him for utterly irrelevant reasons.

It always embarrassed me to attend a game after that and hear Alomar booed by many of the Toronto "fans". They won't ever see a better second baseman.
Willy - Saturday, March 19 2005 @ 05:51 PM EST (#106730) #
Let me get that a bit closer to being accurate: it wasn't a Latino pitcher for the Dodgers, but a Japanese one that H. went after.
Jays 5, Devil Rays 4 | 16 comments | Create New Account
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