In case you missed it, Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Mike Hargrove, and Kenny Lofton had an impromptu reunion at the Indians’ Spring Training facility. Here are our guys:
Sandy Alomar, Carlos Baerga, Albert Belle, Mike Hargrove, Kenny Lofton

I hate to be the one to say it because I adored him back in the day, but Albert Belle hasn’t aged well. On the plus side, he looks friendlier and perhaps more at peace, so that seems like a fair trade for some gray hair and jowls. Kenny Lofton, on the other hand, looks as fresh as a proverbial daisy. He’s working with the Indians as a guest instructor. I like the idea of him working on baserunning with young guys like Michael Brantley and Ezequiel Carrera, both of whom have great wheels.

About Albert: I was a huge Albert Belle fan. Really, a fan in the unhealthy battered woman he’s-just-misunderstood realm of fandom reserved for athletes, relatives, and others whom we love but know deep in our hearts are deeply troubled. And when he left Cleveland for the White Sox, it was like having the love of your high school life jilt you for the skankiest girl in school. Watching Belle come to bat was kind of like watching someone go to speed psychotherapy–he’d step in the box/lie down on the couch, face off with the pitcher/therapist, and unload his inner demons/unload his inner demons. With the substitution of a Trek bicycle for a baseball bat, I could relate to this. Perhaps we all can.

I’m glad Albert Belle went to Spring Training to see his old friends. And I’m glad to see him looking happy. An article on Cleveland.com notes that he’s married and has four young daughters. To have the universe send four daughters to a guy who had problems with anger and women in the past (yes, I’m understating–old habits die hard) is proof that God has a sense of humor and that there’s always the possibility of reform and redemption. Good for him.

9 Comments

  • John Z says:

    Albert took a lot of flak on things that he shouldn’t have. For example, if you replaced him with someone else in two specific incidents with someone else, his actions would be praised. Specifically, replace Albert with Cal Ripken, Jr. on the Fernando Vina baseline incident, and an 80-year old grandma in the house-egging incident and you’d have a completely different narrative from the media.

  • Susan Petrone says:

    An excellent point.

  • Pat M says:

    OK, I admit it. I’m nostalgic, I miss these guys playing.

    There will never by anything like the 1995 and 1997 teams ever again.

  • Matt Ring says:

    I too was a fan of Albert and the whole team. On a side note, I didn’t even recognize Carlos! Maybe its because he no longer has the stache??

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Pat, I agree, although I wonder if part of that is a trick of our memory. We had so little for so long that when these guys came on the scene in 1995, it was like getting being struck by lightning. I think we’ll see teams with that amount of talent again, but perhaps it won’t have the same impact on us.

    Matt, it took me a second to recognize Carlos too. He always had a round face, but it looks a little rounder these days.

  • Charlie says:

    Kenny looks great. Now that we know what was going on in the 90s I suppose we have to presume Albert was on the juice, and that no doubt contributed to his famous ill temper. Glad to see him doing better nowadays.

    I remember so well the grandslam he hit off Armando Benitez in the 1996 playoffs. Never have I heard a baseball crowd as loud as that moment. Benitez was an enormous man with sizzling stuff, and Albert just smoked it to center field. What a great run those guys had.

  • Justin says:

    I had heard rumors that a few years ago AB was trying to get in with the Indians as a hitting instructor either in ST or as their full time hitting coach. I would love to see what he could do with LaPorta and the rest of our prospects. His approach to the plate was magical and he is really a bright guy, he is an avid golf and chess player and does have a college degree.

  • Chip P says:

    How is it Albert Belle looks older than Mike Hargrove?

  • Swift says:

    I too was a big Albert Belle fan back “in the day”. It was for Albert that I came up with the expression “yes, he is a psychopath, but he is OUR psychopath” :) (I was only about 40% kidding).

    But he is the last Indians batter that other pitchers feared. And not because he was going to charge the mound or anything like that, but because of his presence at the plate and what he did with the bat. Yes, Thome passed his 50 HR mark, but Belle had his 50/50 season (50 HRs, 50 2Bs), which is even more impressive.