We’re a bit late on this one, but I didn’t want to write much about it over the weekend. But if you were anywhere near a TV or computer over the last 48 hours, you’re likely aware that Omar Vizquel is now the all-time leader for games played at shortstop – with 2,584 games under his belt.
Now 41-years young, Vizquel has returned to the field after missing a large chunk of the season while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery, thus allowing him to break the record. Good news is, for Omar fans, that retirement plans are yet to be decided. But even if the veteran were to hang them up tomorrow, there would be many of fans lauding his career.
I hate to wax banal as a Tribe fan, but Vizquel is one of the last remaining ties that a lot of us can link back to the “Glory Days” of the mid-to-late 90′s. You know, the “Era of Champions.”
Of the 11 Gold Gloves that Vizquel won, eight of them were with the Indians. Was there really any better combination in the middle of a field than Omar and Roberto Alomar? And while there has been much of debate regarding his credentials, Vizquel touches on the possibilities of a Hall of Fame induction.
“The scandal of steroids has darkened the chances for many players,” Vizquel said of the Hall. “Logically, it increases my chances since my name has not been involved in such controversy. During my career, I have had a clean record, away from troubles, so maybe this could influence many baseball writers.”
There are a handful of shortstops that are ahead of Vizquel on most “potential HoF” lists. Thankfully, this July will see one of said middlemen get inducted as Barry Larkin will be rightfully enshrined. Alan Trammel is still out there, and with Bill James naming him the ninth best shortstop of all-time, he’ll likely garner more of a push than Vizquel. Fortunately for both players, Trammel has a solid chance of entering the Hall in 2009.
The fact that Vizquel openly criticized Jose Mesa for blowing Game 7 of the 1997 World Series will forever keep me a fan. All of the fielding, double-plays, Gold Gloves, clutch hits and the fact that he is an all-around great player to have on your team is all just a bonus.