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.

 

10 Comments

  • DaveR says:

    Living in Florida it will be a challenge to try to get my 2 year old son to understand my love for the Indians. We try to see them play when they visit the Rays but the timing didn’t work out this year.

    That bobblehead will be a great reminder of the last really successful period of Indians baseball. I hope we just started another era like that this year.

  • Jason says:

    Albert played the game honestly? The guy was busted for corking his bat.

    • GG Allin says:

      Corking a bat is like a spitball – while it’s against the rules, it’s a time honored way of trying to beat the system. Joe Niekro’s file, too! And that corked bat was a single incident in HOF caliber career, cut short by injury. If you are holding that up as proof of a career of dishonesty, then you’ve failed. Was Gaylord Perry honest?!

  • Susan Petrone says:

    Honestly in the sense that he wasn’t pretentious. he knew his value as a player but wasn’t an annoying git (like, say , Jeter or A-Rod).

  • Adam Hintz says:

    I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for Joey Belle.

    I figure I should share my favorite little anecdotal story: When I was 9, my little league team got together to watch the Indians play the Orioles in the ALDS… the Indians, trailing 2-0 in the series, were tied 4-4 in the 7th inning, when Albert stepped up to the dish with the bases loaded.

    Our star player (not me, unfortunately…) stood up and declared Albert was about to hit a grand slam. In his 9-year old excitement, he kicked the TV remote and turned it off. A mad scramble to find the remote and get the TV back on ensued. In that chaotic 10 seconds, Albert launched one. I don’t remember much after that, other than turning on the TV to see the celebration, and then a dozen little boys joining in. It was everything baseball should be.

    Anyway. I wish I could get you a bobblehead, Susan. :)

  • Jeremy says:

    Susan:

    Loved the article; it accurately described this irrational passion we carry for our team. I’m like you, I always loved Albert Belle. I had a 50/50 man poster of him in my bedroom and took along with me to college. That whole 95 lineup was likeable: Loften, Baerga, Alomar, Thome, and ManRam……even the ageless one Steddie Eddie Murray…the chase to 3,000 was fun to watch.

    Roll Tribe

  • Steve Alex says:

    It’s funny how our allegiances color our perceptions of a man, much like a parent’s unconditional love for their child no matter what they do. I’m sure fans of other teams saw Albert as a cheat and belligerent clubhouse cancer with a big ego and a bigger mouth, yet we loved him for it. He brought an intensity and a dedication to his work that drowned everything else out for those watching closely enough to notice, as we were. And we’ll always have the Fernando Vina forearm shiver. The reality is that Albert was a selfish player who cared nothing for the fans who adored him, leaving a perennial World Series contender for bigger money, yelling at Kevin Seitzer for not scoring from second on a single because he was chasing the RBI title, et al. But he was also a hard-working player who, in his quest for individual achievement, made his team a winner. For fans who hadn’t seen a winner in half a century, that was enough to make him a hero.

  • Paul says:

    Susan, sorry to interrupt the Indians conversation. LTNS! this is Paul (a/k/a euro60). I’m going to be in Cleveland later this month for work (Belgian business roundtable, followed by Team USA-Belgium soccer friendly at the Browns stadium). If you send me your email address I will send you some info on that. You can email me at paul.allaer@thompsonhine.com

    Sorry again for the interruption!

    • medfest says:

      Belgian team is my dark horse pick in the next World Cup,they’re loaded with talent.
      I may have to check out the friendly ,thanks for reminding me!

  • Trophyhunter says:

    Eric Karabell: I find yuor remarks to your partner on Sweetspot, and other
    teams, extremly offensive! You don’t even let the other guy, finish his comment… You are almost always wrong. And although I enjoy every other
    commentary on ESPN, I will alway’s try to avoid Karabell, Dinggggg……

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