Let’s get this out of the way first and foremost, since (it almost figures) at least a few social media tweeters raised it. Hall of Fame second baseman Roberto Alomar’s fresh ineligibility to work in baseball doesn’t mean Pete Rose suddenly gets a pass to stand for Hall of Fame election.
The news broke Friday that Alomar—working as an advisor to baseball’s government and a Blue Jays special assistant concurrently—is now on baseball’s ineligible list over sexual misconduct said to have occurred in 2014, at the sad expense of a baseball industry employee. He’d been elected to Cooperstown on his second try in 2011.
“Roberto Alomar got Pete Rose’d today,” tweeted Ice Cat Sports Cards, from South Dakota. “If Roberto Alomar is on the Ineligible list,” asked a tweet by someone handling himself ElScorcho, “how can he stay in the Hall of Fame? I mean that says Pete Rose should be in right?”
Specific details of Alomar’s sexual misconduct aren’t disclosed as I write. But it happened three years after he was elected and inducted into the Hall of Fame. (To its credit, the commissioner’s office engaged an independent law firm to investigate.) If he’d committed the misconduct that now has him purged before 2011, Alomar wouldn’t have even been on the ballot, never mind elected.
Rose violated Rule 21(d) before he would have made his first Hall ballot. The very likelihood that he might be elected despite his ban prompted the Hall to rule: if you’re ineligible to associate with organised baseball, you’re not eligible to appear on a ballot conferring the game’s highest honour.
No, ladies and gentlemen, Roberto Alomar did not get Pete Rosed on Friday. Any drumbeating for shoving Rose into the Hall of Fame on the basis of Alomar’s banishment is factual and moral idiocy. So don’t even think about hammering the Hall of Fame for refusing to purge Alomar.
“When he was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America in the Class of 2011, Alomar was an eligible candidate in good standing,” the Hall said in a formal Friday statement. “His plaque will remain on display in the Hall of Fame in recognition of his accomplishments in the game, and his enshrinement reflects his eligibility and the perspective of the [Baseball Writers Association of America] voters at that time.”
Alomar isn’t the first to land on baseball’s permanently ineligible list over sexual misconduct or its concurrent behaviours. Former Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman got there for crowing he was so [fornicating] glad they obtained relief pitcher Roberto Osuna while Osuna was still under investigation for domestic abuse. A rant delivered in the presence of three female reporters in the Astro clubhouse after they won the 2019 American League Championship Series.
The persona non grata list also includes one-time Cardinals scouting director Chris Correa, thanks to his being caught red-handed hacking into the Astros’ databases. It also includes former Braves general manager John Coppolella, after he inflated or deflated signing bonuses for Dominican prospects to maneuver around baseball’s international signing rules.
Maybe the BBWAA will fume over the Hall of Fame refusing to purge Alomar. But at least one member might advise not so fast. “I don’t disagree with the Hall’s more measured response,” wrote Toronto Star columnist Rosie DiMinno Friday, after commissioner Rob Manfred announced the Alomar termination and purge.
It would be insupportable to retroactively banish someone from Cooperstown when egregious conduct comes to light. Just imagine going backwards in time and stripping a player of that specific honour, a summation of career brilliance, for behaviour which is now recognized as reprehensible but wasn’t then. So many scoundrels are in the Hall and, at least figuratively, their statues would have to be toppled.
Please don’t ask which such scoundrels not named Cap Anson and Kenesaw Mountain Landis would be removed from the Hall right now. You won’t like a lot of the answers. They might or might not only begin with Babe Ruth.
Lisa Banks, the attorney for the unnamed woman at the center of the Alomar purge, sent a statement out as well. Quoted by DiManno, Banks said, “We applaud MLB for having this matter thoroughly investigated and for taking meaningful action against Mr. Alomar . . . My client has no plans to file a lawsuit or take further action. She has not exposed Mr. Alomar’s behaviour for notoriety or for money and looks forward to moving on with her life. She simply wants to ensure that Mr. Alomar is held accountable.”
But DiManno goes forward saying that while baseball has a perfect right to purge someone over particular misbehaviours, since being in professional baseball is not an absolute right but an absolute privilege, something about the Alomar case isn’t quite passing the proverbial smell test yet.
. . . I don’t know what Alomar is alleged to have done and Manfred isn’t telling. I do know that some accusations, when exposed in a court of law, criminal or civil, do not rise to the threshold of conviction. And nowhere have I seen a claim that Alomar’s conduct was criminal. It might or might not pass the sniff test of a human rights complaint. It clearly did not pass scrutiny of the MLB investigation — conducted independently by an external legal firm . . .
I wish there were more details disclosed about the alleged incident, which surely could have been done without identifying the complainant . . . I’ve covered enough legal proceedings on this subject to understand that a great deal of nuance separates accusation from even the lower bar of civil action proof. The vacuum of information leaves a worrisome gap for warranting so ham-fisted a decision.
And that, she continues, “comes from someone who was once called a [fornicating (four-letter euphemism for ‘vagina’ starting with ‘c’)] by a player in the Jays clubhouse; who, on another occasion, had a player simulate pelvis thrusting from the rear while I was bending over to conduct an interview with another player at his stall. These were not incidents I reported to the club or to my employer. I’m just not that delicate a flower.”
The Blue Jays will disappear Alomar’s presence promptly enough, the team has said, including pulling his commemorative banner down from Rogers Centre and removing him from its Level of Excellence. The Jays also said in their own statement they’re committed to an environment of respect for everyone in their organisation, applauding concurrently the unnamed woman who stepped forward in the first place.
This is not a pleasant denouement for the man who hit what DiMinno says remains, arguably, the single most important home run in Blue Jays history. That would be the Game Four-tying two-run homer off Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley in the top of the ninth, finishing a comeback from a five-run deficit, pushing the Jays to the eleven-inning win that gave them a 3-1 American League Championship Series advantage in 1992. En route their first World Series conquest.
I’m not entirely convinced that launch compares to Joe Carter’s World Series-winning three-run bomb in 1993. But you can’t convince me Alomar’s blast off Dennis the Menace wasn’t just as important in Jays history. “Emotional bonds are difficult to sever,” DiManno opened. “Historical facts can’t be expunged.”
Neither can a Hall of Famer eligible for election and getting elected well enough before the acts that got him banished from baseball eligibility. Alomar’s behaviour as a three-year Hall incumbent is terrible enough, without using it to argue Rose into the Hall when Rose’s rule breaking got him blocked before he was eligible for a Cooperstown ballot at all.