I confess that I still carry a torch for Albert Belle. From Day One, I was a fan. I’m not exactly sure why he was my favorite player during the 1990s. He was angry, clearly had issues with women (oh heck, issues with interpersonal relationships in general), and played with a savage intensity. But he also played the game honestly and struck me as someone without pretension, who just wanted to be left alone to do his job. I can relate to that.
When Belle left the Indians in 1996 for the White Sox, I felt like I had just been dumped by the love of my life. Even though I might publicly badmouth him, I would surreptitiously follow his career and even cheer him on if he wasn’t playing against the Indians. Like many cases of unrequited love, my affection for Albert Belle has always been irrational.
He seems to have mellowed a bit with age, and even visited Cleveland’s Spring Training camp in 2011. That was apparently the first time he had had real contact with the Indians organization since he left. All seems to be forgiven now, because the Indians are holding Albert Belle Bobblehead Day on Saturday, June 1. The bobblehead shows Belle pointing to his bicep (can’t you just hear him saying “I’ve got your cork right here”). Yes, I’m in heaven.
Except I’m not.
I’m a diehard Indians fan, but I’m also a parent. Saturday, June 1 is also the day my daughter’s Daisy troop bridges to Brownies. Small event in the greater scheme of things but a big one in her young life. Just as a single baseball promotional item is a drop in the ocean of stuff we each accumulate in a lifetime. So instead of being at the ballgame that day (and it’s one of the rare Saturday afternoon games), I’ll be with my kid, which is as it should be. Baseball is life, but in this case, unconditional love must win out over irrational love.
If anyone wants to send me an Albert Belle Bobblehead though, I’d be much obliged.