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Jason Fry and Greg Prince
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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In Which I Discuss Roberto Alomar With God

It's no fun when the world forces you to be a better person than you want to be.

I mean, Jesus. Even with the bottled tears still freshly spritzed on A-Rod's face, this is really something. Robbie Alomar might have AIDS? And possibly have been insanely negligent about it?

My first reaction was shock. Then I reflexively tried for Schadenfreude, but barely even got through the first syllable before realizing that wasn't appropriate. To invert the title of our reaction post about A-Rod, It Wasn't Funny Even Though It Was Happening to Him.

I hate Roberto Alomar. Three years ago, inaugurating Met Hell, I assigned him to the Eighth Level, with only one Met receiving a harsher eternal sentence. (And honestly, that was kind of on a technicality.) According to Dante, the Eighth Circle of Hell was Malebolge, inhabited by hypocrites, thieves, false counselors, sowers of schism and falsifiers — all apt descriptions for Robbie Alomar, whose farcical tour of Met duty proved beyond any reasonable shadow of a doubt that he was a malingerer, liar, and a bad teammate. The idea that he'll be inducted into Cooperstown disgusts me — now and then I've fantasized about making the trip up there and picking the perfect moment to be a lone voice booing vociferously while everyone turns around in shock and disgust. As I was led out I'd scream about the game where Alomar blamed everything on rookie pitcher Jae Seo, and how he wouldn't stop freaking bunting, and how he quit even bothering to try and turn the pivot, and how Gary Cohen was right to call him a disgrace, and how….

But now I'm imagining it's July 2003 and I'm facing God, who in this particular imagining has assumed the form of a particularly dour and fearsome schoolmarm. And our conversation goes something like this….

“Sit down, Jason. You hate Roberto Alomar, right?”

“Do I ever! I'm so glad we finally traded that worthless sack of quit! Why, remember the game where he blamed everything on –”

“That will do. So it's true that you hate him.”

“In spades! Why, did something happen to him? Oh boy! I hope it's something bad!”

“It is. Sit down.”

“Ummm … OK.”

“Jason, do you hate Roberto Alomar enough to want him to develop severe fatigue, sores on his mouth and throat, a constant cough and an infection of the esophagus that is associated with AIDS?”

“What?”

“Do you hate him enough to want him to have purple skin, foam at the mouth, be too sick to walk and need a wheelchair to get around at the airport?”

At this point, I imagine I'd be looking down at my shoes and speaking in a rather small voice.

“Umm … no.”

“I DIDN'T HEAR YOU!”

“I … umm … well, of course … what …”

“LOUDER! STOP MUMBLING AND LOOK AT ME!”

“NO! I don't hate Roberto Alomar enough that I want him to develop severe fatigue, or turn purple, or … or all that other stuff you said. I don't think I hate anybody who isn't an actual murderer or war criminal or terrorist that much. Because I'm not insane, OK? I mean, there's sports hate, and I really do sports-hate Roberto Alomar a lot, but I don't hate him for real. Well, actually I probably do hate him for real, but not that much. No, nowhere near that much. Not really very much at all in any way that actually matters, and –”

“That's enough. You were doing better before. OK, read this Associated Press story. And then look me in the eye, and tell me what you'd tell him.”

“Umm … do I have to?”

“Yes, you do! You've said hateful things about Robbie Alomar for years and written hateful things about Robbie Alomar for years, and now I want to hear what you'd tell him if he were here right now.”

“Umm, well … Robbie, I hope none of that is true. I hope you didn't really treat your girlfriend that way. And if you did, I hope you've had some pretty heavy counseling to ensure you don't treat any significant others that way anymore. I, um, hope you weren't raped by guys in New Mexico when you were 17. And if you were — that sucks, and I hope you got help with it somehow. Umm, I hope you're not really HIV-positive. And if you are, I hope you're dealing with it and you're healthy and you stay that way. And this isn't really the point, but … if it's true I hope maybe some people who were your fans but think they hate people with AIDS think about that now and realize they don't, so that at least some good comes of something so awful.”

“Is that it?”

“Yeah, I think so. Um, was that OK?”

“It will do. I think you actually meant that, Jason.”

“You know what? I think I did, too.”

“OK then. You can go.”

“OK. Thanks. But … umm, can I ask you something?”

“What is it?”

“Is there anything wrong with Luis Castillo?”

“What?”

“I mean besides being fat and bad?”

“Why are you asking me that?”

“Well, because I have to have some outlet for being low and vile, and if you're taking Robbie Alomar away from me, I'd hope you'd at least leave me that, because –”

“JASON! GET OUT!”

15 comments to In Which I Discuss Roberto Alomar With God

  • Anonymous

    Is it that much a certainty Alomar is getting into the Hall? I mean, he was terrible for a couple of years, and surely he burned a lot of goodwill hocking in an umpire's face. Add in the occasionally-enforced character clause (insisting onriding bareback? Really?), and hopefully he'll remain outside Cooperstown looking in.

  • Anonymous

    You may as well hope that Roger Clemens would be revealed to most probably have been a cheater, and beyond a shadow of a doubt a stupid jerk, bad husband and … hey, wait a minute!
    I guess we can hope….

  • Anonymous

    I think you're kind of missing the point here – that when a player on the Mets played sluggishly you called him a disgrace and a thief, never questioning the fact that his failures were because he was a bad person who should just be trying harder. And he had AIDS. According to this article, he didn't believe it, and thought he would push through it and become strong again, but he had AIDS and his body was dying and that was the best that he could do. And you savaged him for it. You called him every vicious name in the book, for daring to be sick when you wanted him to be healthy.
    And at the end of the day David Wright doesn't play well because of his strong moral character and Aaron Heilman didn't fail against the greatest hitters the world has ever known because he's a weak choker. And maybe we should think twice about assuming that if someone doesn't live up to our expectations, it must be on purpose and they just need to try harder.

  • Anonymous

    That's … a very good point.

  • Anonymous

    That came out much angrier than I meant it. I'm mostly just feeling guilty – I spent a lot of time being vocally frustrated and angry at a man who, apparently, was suffering enough without my adding to it

  • Anonymous

    Well, it says he wasnt diagnosed until 2006, and he last played as a met in 2003. I know AIDS can sit there for a while, but are we sure he had AIDS then? I'm just saying. If he did then I feel bad too. As Jason said, as much as I sports hate someone, I wouldn't want that for them, except maybe john rocker just because he is a bad person.

  • Anonymous

    maybe. but if no one cared about how these guys performed, ultimately no one would pay them millions of dollars to play a kids' game. and i hope that the millions he made and the healthcare he had access to made his disease at least somewhat more tolerable.

  • Anonymous

    The Smoking Gun has the lawsuit. It claims Alomar started developing cold sores in 2004, with his health really going downhill in 2005.
    Which doesn't negate Anonymous's point about not always assuming the worst about players because something else might be going on, but does make me feel like something less of a jerk.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, listen to all of you rending your clothes and sitting in sackcloth and ashes because you think you need to pity a man who, AIDS or no, torpedoed several promising Mets seasons. I still hate the guy and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Go ahead and turn purple, you expectorating goldbricking bastard! And take Baerga, Jefferies, Samuel and Castillo with you!
    Hey, did it just start raining frogs on my house?

  • Anonymous

    There are 2 points everyone's missing, IMO:
    1) Alomar does NOT have aids. There's no way.
    2) If I'm wong, and Alomar does have aids, knew he had aids, and still demanded unprotected sex–well then he is of the murdering type and deserves all the pain and suffering that's in store.
    But like I said: NO WAY is that story true. In my sick twisted mind I keep thinking we will hear in a few weeks, “of course I'm one of the other 103 players listed. I had HIV. I needed steroids to stay healthy, legitimately.” Sure you did, Robbie, sure you did.

  • Anonymous

    After the shard-throwing incident I told friends I thought Clemens was a steroid freak; so happy to have been vindicated. All the other stuff – child molestation, adultery, perjury, possible jail time, talk of ass abscesses, breakup with his BFF Pettite – is just sweet, sweet icing on a yummy cake.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn't wish that virus on my worst enemy, either. But the details of that lawsuit just seem crazy to me. The woman who is suing him says that she does not have HIV–that he never infected her. That doesn't really seem to jive with her other allegations. Either she was extraordinarily lucky (for lack of a better word), or something else is going on here.

  • Anonymous

    Actually, there are some players–Alomar among them–who do fail on the field for reasons that encourage savaging them. Either they don't give their all, make the same mental mistakes repeatedly, play selfishly or stupidly, etc. I'd never boo someone (live or in print) for struggling, slumping or even stinking, but players like Alomar, Roger Cedeno or Kevin McReynlods (who hated us as fans, didn't like or respect the game that much and didn't care to maximize his talents), deserve what they get. Chokers, a la Mr. Benitez, fall somewhere in between.

  • Anonymous

    It does seem crazy, doesn't it? Last night Alomar put out a statement calling the suit “full of lies” but also saying that “this is a very private, personal matter and I greatly appreciate all the support I have received in the past few days from my family, friends and colleagues in baseball. I am in very good health and I ask that you respect my privacy during this time.”
    Either that's not a denial, or he needs to hire a PR person who can craft an unequivocal sentence.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, you can have unprotected sex with someone who is HIV+ and not catch it from them. It was never an “automatic gimme,” it was always a matter of strong possibility. But that's a good enough reason to use protection.
    And I'll grant that some details of this case do sound fantastic and over the top. Dall is not alleging that Alomar raped her or physically prevented her from leaving, so then you have to ask, why did she have consensual sex multiple times with someone who had such callous disregard for her health? (And his, too, but that's a separate issue.)
    Also, I've never in my life heard of AIDS being diagnosed via spinal tap; simple outpatient blood tests will confirm either the HI virus or, if the patient has progressed to AIDS, CD4 and T-cell counts. Lumbar puncture is freaking expensive and painful and often requires hospitalization, and doctors generally don't send anyone for that unless they suspect meningitis or something along the spinal cord, or they want to inject a certain type of contrast dye or chemotherapy. It's possible he had a lumbar puncture to diagnose something else, but it's absolutely NOT a typical diagnostic test run for AIDS or HIV. It's more commonly used in certain types of cancer cases.
    Okay, so on the surface, this woman looks like she's missing a few crayons from her box and is just looking for some attention and/or a quick out of court settlement. But…BUT…this is a lawsuit, not just some crackpot story she sold to the Enquirer. And it's not just any lawsuit; it's one against a famous person which, if even a TINY bit of it is true, will alter that famous person's reputation forever, even beyond death. That means that if it comes out that she's making the whole thing up, she could be countersued for even more money than she's suing him for, the kind of money I'm fairly certain she doesn't have. I would have to think any lawyer doing his or her job would tell her that, and to make sure she knows what she's getting into here, because there is no taking it back. This is not like suing your neighbor for having an ugly car and ruining your property values, a nuisance suit that can easily be dismissed; this is high-stakes. Which is why I'm not convinced it's total bullshit.
    Also: I never bought that Alomar was playing like shit because he stopped caring. I always maintained that he stopped caring because he was playing like shit. Ballplayers, especially on Alomar's level, have a lot of ego invested in level of performance. You can't underestimate how much. I think it's very, very rare that a player actually thinks, “I have my money, so fuck it, who cares about my team or the fans,” unless a serious loss of abilities happens first.
    Next up: Jason figures out that people can gain weight for reasons other than having their heads in a ten-gallon barrel of Rocky Road (says the woman who gained serious weight on psych meds). It's not Luis Castillo's fault that Omar was dumb enough to give him a deal like that.