Tag:Al Kaline
Posted on: July 23, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: July 23, 2011 3:23 pm
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Alomar should have been first-ballot HOFer


COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- There is no reasonable explanation why Roberto Alomar was not a first-ballot Hall of Famer. None.

There are theories as to why he had to wait until his second year of eligibility. Mine is this: An enormous bloc of the New York voters left him off of their ballots, penalizing him for the way his skills vanished almost overnight at the end of his career during his brief stay with the Mets. I think they confused the fact that he couldn't play anymore with their suspicion that he simply quit trying.

Consequently, I think that many of them withheld their votes from Alomar until this year. That's their prerogative and their right, even if I disagree.

The other, more prevailing theory is that Alomar was penalized in the voting for the one despicable incident in his career, when he spat upon the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. He long ago apologized, and the two men have maintained a good relationship over the years since.

As for that possibility, this is what Alomar says:

"Me and John, we have a great relationship. We have become great friends, and I want people to know that the year that I didn't make it, one of the first phone calls that I got was from him apologizing, [saying] that he feels sorry for me not making it ... saying that was one of the reasons why I didn’t' make it in the first round.

"And I told him, 'No, it's not your fault. It was my fault. And, you know, we just have to move on. Me and John have become great friends. We have done a lot of great things for the foundation. I became real friends with him and his family. John embraced me the same way I embraced him.

"And when I got in this year, he was one of the happiest men alive. He left a message on my phone. I still have the message. And it was a great message and, you know ... we both move on and hopefully people can move on and let this episode go."

Likes: The village of Cooperstown is like something from the set of a 1940s movie. What a great place. You can never go wrong by coming here. ... Reggie Jackson striding through Sam Smith's Boathouse and Blue Mingo Grill for dinner in Cooperstown. The Macadamia nut encrusted halibut is outstanding at the Boathouse, by the way. And the coconut cake with vanilla ice cream is sensational. ... Robin Yount and Paul Molitor coming in from the golf course Saturday morning. ... Talking about the late Sparky Anderson with Al Kaline in the lobby of the Otesaga Hotel here Saturday morning. ... Bert Blyleven's sense of humor. ... Billy Williams' smile.

Dislikes: Cell phone service is awful in the area. My phone is getting reception probably an average of 10 minutes every hour.

Posted on: February 22, 2011 2:32 pm
Edited on: February 22, 2011 2:33 pm
 

Now at second: Nishioka's translator?

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins will take the art of importing a Japanese free agent to a unique level when infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka runs through Minnesota's first full-squad workout of the spring on Wednesday.

As Nishioka and Alexi Casilla familiarize themselves with each other this spring, manager Ron Gardenhire says he intends to have Nishioka's translator stationed in the infield during drills.

"Once the games start, it will get more entertaining," Gardenhire joked.

The purpose of keeping the translator close by, even if it means getting caked with infield dirt, is very simple.

"I want Nishi to communicate with the other players if any of them have any questions," Gardenhire said.

The general thinking is that Casilla will be the Twins' shortstop this season and that Nishioka will play second base. But the Twins say right now that no determination has been made and that that could flip. Nishioka, the Twins' first Asian-born player and the 2010 MVP of the Nippon League, was a shortstop in Japan.

Gardenhire said the early-spring plan is to work each man out at each position and go from there.

But the main thing early, he said, is to make sure Nishioka is comfortable.

"We had a little conversation today," Gardenhire said. "I want to make sure he understands we know he can play and that he doesn't have anything to prove. He's an All-Star. He's won a batting title. We know he can play."

Nishioka has been in town for several days but has been working out on the Twins' minor-league fields. He made an appearance in the big-league clubhouse early Tuesday morning but did not participate in the workouts.

"I was looking forward to participating in practice starting the 23rd with the first workout, so I wanted to be in the best shape possible," said Nishioka, who will wear No. 1. "I'm more excited than nervous."

Nishioka said he spoke with former big leaguer Kaz Matsui before joining the Twins "but it was brief, just good luck, nothing specific." He also said, when asked about adjusting to a new life in the majors, "I would like to learn English and try and adjust to that."

Meanwhile, Gardenhire is hard at work on his Japanese. At least, certain words and phrases.

He was leafing through a small pocket book called "Survival Japanese" on Tuesday morning and has already downloaded and printed a handful of pages' worth of Japenese baseball terms.

How's his Japanese coming?

"I have it in my book, not in my vocabulary," Gardenhire said, before joking, "If there's a nice-looking chick, I may ask him about her."

Seriously, Gardenhire said, "it's hard for me to put it in one word. But I want to do it in one sentence. He's going to understand me before it's all done. We're going to get it."

Sunblock Day? Lots of fog this morning. But that gave way to sun, 83 degrees and smiles. Pass the sunblock.

Likes: Always good to see former Twins manager Tom Kelly in uniform and assisting in drills here. ... Likewise, same with Hall of Famer Al Kaline at Detroit's camp in Lakeland. ... Oh my goodness, now Twins catcher Joe Mauer is a spokesman for Head & Shoulders Shampoo. Well lathered, Mauer. ... Nino's Pizzeria and Italian Restaurant remains on top of its game in both the chicken parmesan and pizza departments. I can attest to both over the past few nights.

Dislikes: What they ought to do to the scumbag who poisoned the trees at Auburn is turn the environmentalists loose on him ... on Arbor Day.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I've been burning down all my yesterdays
"I can't stick around to see the smoke
"'Cause we’re on our way, and we don’t care where
"There’s no time to sit around and mope"

-- The Push Stars, Minnesota

Posted on: July 25, 2009 7:18 pm
 

Rickey and the art of speech-making

COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. -- Poor Jim Rice. While he eked into the Hall of Fame in his 15th and final year of eligibility, it is Rickey Henderson who is threatening to steal the spotlight in Sunday's induction ceremony.

Rickey being Rickey, some here are calling it one of the "most anticipated speeches" in the history of the Hall of Fame. Some even think it is the most anticipated speech.

Al Kaline simply smiled and shook his head Saturday afternoon when I asked him whether the Hall of Famers had been provided with translation booklets so they could understand what the always entertaining Henderson might say.

"He's a funny guy," offered Tony Perez. "Really, the way he talks. I just hope it's not too long."

"Everyone was talking about it last night," Hank Aaron said, chuckling.

As for Henderson, he didn't give much of a preview during a Saturday afternoon press conference, other than to say he would follow the suggestions of the Hall of Famers and keep it short and that it would include thank yous to those who have played an important part in his baseball development.

"My preparation for the speech is basically to not make a mistake and to not forget the people who helped you get to this point," he said.

As for his famous tendency to refer to himself as "Rickey", Henderson didn't do it at all in Saturday's news conference and suggested that that was overblown. Though, as he did, he referred to the fact that he rarely speaks of himself in the "third party." He did this multiple times (as opposed to referring to it correctly as the "third person.")

Rice did get off a terrific line himself, though, when someone asked each man to talk about something they appreciate in the other's game.

"I'm not going to say I appreciated Rickey," Rice said. "I hated Rickey. I called him 'Speedy.' I told (Boston pitchers) if he gets a base hit, he's going to steal second base, and then third, and if he gets a double, he's going to steal third.

"So the best thing you can do is hit him in the kneecap."

That elicited a roar from everyone, including Henderson.

Likes: Earl Weaver and Dick Williams sitting in lobby of Otesaga Hotel waiting for the golf tournament to come on television. ... Bob Gibson looks really good. Lean, healthy and he was even smiling on Friday night. ... The Saturday night gala they hold at the Hall Museum, complete with red-carpet arrivals featuring the Hall of Famers emerging from trolley cars, always is a highlight.

Dislikes: No Willie McCovey this year.

 
 
 
 
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