I have hoped for SO LONG that I would get to write about Albert Belle some day, especially in the context of the Hall of Fame.
I once heard Bob Costas refer to Belle as "the game's most hated superstar since Ty Cobb." Well, Bobby, first of all, Hornsby was probably more hated
than Cobb and played 9 years later, so lol to begin with. And second of all, Belle was hated largely because he was an angry black man whom the media
singled out for censure, ridicule and condemnation.
In the Bay Area and the Sacramento Area, it's p.c. in many circles to say people hate Barry Bonds because he's black. Well, NO, they hate him because
he's a world-class @sshole. A white guy like Bonds would get more slack, but only a little more slack. World-class jerks are world-class jerks, no
matter what their skin color, and Bonds is a world-class jerk.
But Belle was singled out from Day One for condemnation. It became known he was a reforming alcoholic, so Cleveland "fans" ridiculed him about being
"a drunk" and invited him over "after the game for a keg," or some such garbage He finally had enough and went into the stands after one of the
jerks, and after that the dye was pretty well cast on him.
I'm going to tell y'all something I'm pretty sure I haven't told you before. I am a reformed alcoholic. A.A. says you're always supposed to say
"recovering alcoholic," but I've never been to one of their meetings, probably couldn't have quit if I'd had to do it their way, and I knew after
about 4 or 5 years that I had made it. It's now been almost 26 years [I'll accept applause] since my last drink.
But if I'd been in left field and one of the subhumans in the stands had been giving me grief about my life-or-death battle with alcoholism, I might
well have done what Belle did: Fire a baseball at him.
It's worth noting MLB only suspended him 6 games for that. Ordinarily, that would get you more like 6 WEEKS, so they obviously understood how serious
the fan's offense was, and thus how mitigated Belle's misconduct was.
But this was the second time Belle had gone after a fan. The first was some foul-mouthed racist who was piling racial slurs on him when he was
playing for LSU.
Now, every man has a breaking point. Everyone seems to agree the baskeball player was ok for going into the stands to protect his wife from what
looked like fan abuse. I agree with that, too. But I also agree that Belle had every right to react to racist taunting and, as someone who's been
there myself, to someone who taunted him about his life-or-death struggle with a disease that kills far too many Americans every year: alcoholism.
Well, after that, it was all over for Belle with the hyenas in the media. Black, prone to strong anger outbursts, and easy to provoke if you hit the
known buttons. Great press, no?
But, IF he was legit, he was one of the greatest hitters of all time. He set the franchise home run record at TWO of the original 16 franchises: the
Cleveland Indians and the Chicago White Sox. He had a season--and a shortened one, at that--in which he hit 50 or more doubles AND 50 or more HR's,
an unprecedented feat. He hit over 100 RBI's in each of his last 9 seasons, including a staggering 152 in 1998 and 148 in 1996. He had a better
career slugging average than Mays, Mantle or Aaron. He had 8 straight years of 30 or more HR's, including a 4-year stint which included 48, 49 and
And THIS guy got 8% of the votes? W.T.F.!!
The sportswriters have worked hard to emasculate the Veterans Committee when it comes to voting for Hall of Fame candidates, citing the ridiculous way
all of Frankie Frisch's former teammates got into the Hall via the Veterans' Committee. And they're right. Virtually all of Frisch's full-time
teammates, from the Giants AND the Cards, got in when Frisch ran the Committee, and most of them don't belong within 100 miles of Cooperstown.
But look at the b.s. these sportswriters pull off.
Reread the stats set out above, and tell me how only 8% could vote for this guy. Either he was provably a cheat, in which case he shouldn't have been
on the ballot at all, or a bunch of jack@sses who never played the game are letting their petty personal agendas affect who gets in the Hall of Fame.
And I've got news for those punks:
The Hall of Fame isn't about who you little turds, who never played MLB for one second, do or don't personally like. Albert Belle is among the
greatest hitters of the past 25 years. His fielding was BAD--as in, he made 1/3 again more errors than the average outfielder for his years--but as
an outfielder, that only translates to 22 extra career errors, which doesn't make a dent in all the extra runs the guy's bat created.
As for the fact he "only" played ten full seasons? So what? That's one more than Hank Greenberg played, and MANY knowledgeable people list him as
the 3rd greatest first baseman ever, with essentially everyone putting him in the Top 10 at first base. Ditto a lot of others who only played 9, 10,
11 or 12 full years.
The ONLY argument against Belle--and I admit it's a big one--is the corked bat incident from July of 1994, when Belle had a bat confiscated by umpires
at the opposing manager's insistence. The umpires put it in their locker room. One of Belle's slimmest and most agile teammates managed to crawl
through vents to get the bat and replace it with an obvious phony. Then they supposedly got ALL of Belle's bats out of the ballpark. The story is
that one teammate said later, "All of Albert's bats were corked."
Obviously if that is true, the guy was a big-time cheat, but surely he broke several bats through the years. After that supposed incident, I'm sure
umpires and opposing teams were looking at any bat he broke, and he never got caught with anything, though his best seasons were yet to come.
This is a guy who drove in 100+ runs and hit 30+ HR's like clockwork. He also scored 100+ runs in 5 of those seasons. His stats are just flat
awesome in numerous places. The fact the media hate him is irrelevant. The fact many of us hate him is every bit as irrelevant. His stats
absolutely put him in the Hall of Fame, unless his former teammates want to talk and incriminate him in a lot of bat corkage [sic
] or in steroid
The fact he got 8% of the votes is EXACTLY why the sportswriters cannot be the only ones who get to vote. They are not HONEST enough to be given that