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Cheers to Roberto Alomar


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Former Blue Jays star Alomar retires after 17-year major league career

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (CP) - Former Toronto Blue Jays star Roberto Alomar called it quits Saturday. The 12-time all-star signed with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with hopes of playing one final season, but he announced his retirement Saturday.

It came one day after he committed two errors in one inning of a spring training game. The 37-year-old Alomar, a key in Toronto's back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and '93, has been bothered by back and vision problems in recent weeks.

"I played a lot of games and I said I would never embarrass myself on the field," Alomar said. "I had a long career, but I can't play at the level I want to play, so it's time to retire."

This would have been the 18th major league season for Alomar, who also played for San Diego, Baltimore, Cleveland, the New York Mets, Arizona, and the Chicago White Sox.

He signed a $600,000 US, one-year contract with the Devil Rays in January, hopeful that he could end his stellar career on a high note after a swift decline the past three seasons. The team pencilled him in as the everyday second baseman and No. 2 hitter.

Alomar, though, said he had doubts even entering camp.

"I just can't go anymore," Alomar said. "My back, legs and eyes aren't the same. I don't want to embarrass myself or my teammates."

With Alomar leaving, Jorge Cantu - who hit .301 in 50 games for Tampa Bay last season, his first in the major leagues - figures to take over at second base.

"I learned a lot from him and I have all the respect in the world for him," Cantu said. "I watched him when I was a kid and looked up to him all through the minor leagues. You have to respect what he's done."

A 10-time Gold Glove winner and career .300 hitter, Alomar is 276 hits shy of 3,000. He was an all-star for 11 consecutive seasons from 1991 to 2001, but has struggled while batting .266, .258 and .263 the past three years.

In 2004, he missed two months with a broken right hand and finished with four homers and 24 RBIs in 56 games for Arizona and the White Sox.

Alomar's stellar career also included an infamous altercation with an umpire. In 1996, upset over strike calls, Alomar - then with the Baltimore Orioles - spat in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck in Toronto.

Alomar made matters worse afterward by saying he thought Hirschbeck was under stress because his eight-year-old son, John Drew, had died of a rare brain disease in 1993 known as adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD).

Yet soon, Alomar and Hirschbeck became friends, and even worked together to raise money earmarked for finding a cure for ALD. And Alomar hopes that mistake doesn't mar his legacy.

"I wish it never happened," Alomar said, "and I hope that's not how people remember me."

He'll likely be remembered in Toronto as a player that may be the best to ever wear a Jays uniform. The San Diego Padres traded Alomar and Joe Carter to the Blue Jays for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez in a famous December 1990 deal that put Toronto over the hump.

He was the MVP of the 1992 American League Championship Series, and few will ever forget his home run off Oakland closer Dennis Eckersley in that series.

Also Saturday, Tampa Bay right fielder Danny Bautista, who hit .286 with 11 homers and 65 RBIs last season with Arizona, announced his retirement.

Bautista was in the major leagues for parts of 12 seasons with Detroit, Atlanta, Florida and the Diamondbacks. He hit .272 in 895 career games, and was 7-for-12 to help Arizona beat the New York Yankees in the 2001 World Series.

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I am not a baseball fan myself, don't know much about this guy other than friends who told me that when they went to get an autograph from this knob (from a 5 year old), he wouldn't do it unless he got $50...

This guy, like most professional athletes, disgust the frig out of me.

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This guy, like most professional athletes, disgust the frig out of me.

I've met lots of pro athletes and have only good memories. Baseball players are notorious ( according to my former broadcasting teacher, TSN producer and current Argo president Keith Pelley ) for being pricks - although I met Paul Molitor, Duane Ward and Devon White and all were really nice to me ( and Ward was a legendary crusty a$$hole ). Yet, other pro athletes, especially hockey and CFL football players have generally good reputations when it comes to dealing with fans.

Try not to paint all pro athletes with the same Alomar-coloured brush.

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I loved the guy, and good work Guigsy (Was that the McCain juice ad?)

In the '92 and '93 seasons my Dad and I were all over the players, and one of my best friends from school was Joe Howarth (Jerry Howarth being the kickass commentator for The Fan). I met Tom Henke, Willie Upshaw, Kelly Gruber, Alomar and Fernandez at different occasions.

I met Rance Mullinicks shopping for socks in The Bay.

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haha, actually, im pretty sure Pat Tabler had one of the best batting averages with runners in scoring position, (or it might have been w/ bases loaded), for a career, not just for the jays, but anyone.. i'll have to go back to the big book of stats, but thats one that i do remember...

and yeah, Polkaroo, definitely the mccain ad. hahaha... im glad that comment reached someone! its always the first thing that pops in my head when i hear the name alomar.. or the rheostatics song Palomar, for that matter.

at any rate, being a 2nd baseman through my years, roberto was always a hero of mine.. dude had a disgusting range, he was able to get to anything, and was rock solid in the field... nevermind the timely hitting!

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"Roberto is the best Blue Jay ever. Not my favourite, but easily the best. Best clutch hitter in Jays history too."

How can you possibly say that? Best fielder, i can agree with, but best overall? bullocks. with the likes of george bell, jesse barfield, kelly gruber, paul molitor (honourary) john olerud, duane ward, tom henke and dave steib to also name a few of the best pitchers.....

Alomar was NOT the best hitter on that team....joe carter had to be the best clutch hitter (leading the team in RBIs damn near every year he played there not to mention the most clutch hit ever in the world series), carlos delgado, ernie whitt, tony fernandez.....all are easily comparable to Alomar.

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C'mon Schwa. Barfield? Bell had some good years, and a career of bad/lazy outfielding. Paul Molitor was a DH for the Jays for two years. Alomar's been to 12 Allstar games. He's one of the best 2nd basemen ever.His best years were in Toronto. Fernandez will never make the Hall. He was a good shortstop that could hit for average. That's it. Bell, Stieb, Ward, Gruber... C'mon, Gruber. None will make Cooperstown. Gruber had a couple of good years, then went water-skiing and wrecked his knee... allegedly.

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steib will make it to the hall, carter too (i hope)

look how long it took sandberg to make it to the hall of fame. he won every gold glove from 83 to 91 and consistantly hit around 25 home runs. i only know this because he was my favourite as a kid....he even went to 10 allstar games in a row. just not very easy is all.

i don't deny he'll be in the hall of fame, but certainly not on the first few trys. the spit in the face of the ump will ensure that. people only remember the bad, not the charity work after, i find.

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Dave Stieb only received 7 votes in 2004. He is no longer eligible for consideration and was only on the ballott one year. Same for Joe Carter, he only received 19 votes in 2004 and is no longer eligible. Both had great years as Jays but will not be in the Hall of Fame.

It took Sandberg 3 years to get in but his votes increased each year 244 to 309 then 393 to get him in.

Alomar may not be a firts ballott entry but I think he will get there.

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