So Roberto Alomar has officially been enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame, taking his place amongst the immortals in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
(how's that for poetic?)
As thrilled as I was to watch the ceremony, perhaps the biggest benefit to watching the spectacle was the realization that dawned on me:
I really didn't need Alomar to be inducted to tell me he was a great baseball player.
I was 15, 16 years old during that first World Series year, and as little (or as much?) as I knew about baseball, I knew that Roberto Alomar was the best player I had ever seen. Was I thinking to myself, during that magical 1992 season, that I was watching a Hall of Famer? Probably, maybe, I'm not sure.
But I know I was thinking that players like Alomar had the rarest of talents. There was literally nothing he couldn't do on a baseball field. Defensive wizardry (watch all those replays where he dives out of range to snag impossible ground balls - what gets me every time is just how fast he pops up and gets the ball off), that quick line drive bat, the ability to drive the ball seemingly exactly when the team needed it, and speed on the basepaths.
And much like Joe Carter, memories of Alomar invariably come back to that iconic home run, that "fuck you Dennis Eckersley" shot in the '92 ALCS. On the broadcast the other night, Buck and Tabler were bantering about how that shot - not Joe's - was the biggest home run in Blue Jays history..... and I'd be hard pressed to argue. "Touch 'em all, Joe" was unforgettable, but Robbie's was the springboard to the first and sweetest.
If I was interested in being objective, I could go on about how the tail end of Alomar's Blue Jay career was, um, less than graceful... but I've pretty much whitewashed that from memory and whitewashed it shall stay.
All that remains in my mind's eye are visions of Alomar's on-field brilliance and what he meant to the club. Without his contributions, the Blue Jay franchise might still be flailing away in search of their first trip to the top of the baseball mountain. I know what he meant to the team and I know what he meant to me as a baseball fan.
Seeing him "officially" take his place among the games all-time greats was nothing more than icing on the cake.