April 16, 2014

Albert Belle Was “Just an Angry Black Man”

albert-bell-sports-illustratedImagine being a beat writer for a team that was supposed to compete for American League playoff contention, but has failed miserably at almost every part of the game.  You are heading to St. Louis to catch the All-Star festivities – you know, actual good baseball players – and your phone rings.

On the other end is former Tribe outfielder Albert Belle.  And instead of berating you, he actually just wants to talk.

Per the Plain Dealer’s Paul Hoynes, that is exactly what happened on the day of the home run derby.  The reason for the call?  Belle wanted to vent about the awful display that his former team has provided fans thus far in the season.

While he discussed things like Manny Ramirez’s recent suspension (“Manny is going to hit no matter what. He’s a talented kid.”) and steroids in general (“Those 101 players who tested positive and haven’t been named yet? I say release all their names so we can get done beating this dead horse.”), I think the most telling quote was his answer regarding the future of the Indians coaching. 

When asked if he would want to manage the Indians, “Unless they got me a lot of new players, I don’t need a headache like that.”

Amen, Albert.  Seemingly choosing Team Wedge over Team Shapiro, even Belle  – who has been away from the game for some time now – sees what the issue is with this current Indians team.

I give credit Hoynes for confronting Belle about steroids in regard to his playing days.  We all know what would happen if a blogger would do such a thing.  Belle’s response on the issue seemed up front and honest, though we could say the same about countless players before him.  When Hoynes hinted that some of Belle’s tantrums may have been the result of “roid rage,” Belle countered with “No, I was just an angry black man.” 

An angry black man that also hit over 375 home runs over 12 seasons; most of which won over the hearts of many Indians fans in the mid-90s.  Who knows what could have happened had Belle’s career not been hampered by a hip injury and the occasional off-field issue.  But while Belle, now 42-years old, watches the game from afar, even he realizes that something has to be done with this current Indians staff.  And to me, it sounds like the big man also thinks that things need to be restructured from the top down.

Albert Belle makes a mid-summer phone call [Cleveland.com]

  • Isis

    Shapetti is THE issue, Wedge is their issue. It’s a forest from the trees thing.

    Could it be that Albert is smartie than Paulie Dolan?

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com TD

    Say what you want about him persoanlly, Albert Belle was friggin MONEY in the 90′s for us. You tell me two more exciting moments than his walkoff grand slam against Lee Smith in 05 and his solo shot off of Rick Aguilera in Game one of the ALDS in the ninth, followed by the famous flex…

  • Isis

    TD-right on with the above.

  • Boomhauer

    I was at that grand slam game and AB was my favorite player at the time. We were standing on the left field home run porch and everyone went nuts when the ball went out. Definitely in my top 5 of sporting moments I’ve witnessed live!

  • JD

    Ok, the mental images I’m conjuring up of AB managing this sad-sack Tribe team are just great…

    I can see him going out to the mound to get Tomo Ohka in the third inning and body-slamming him…breaking a bat over Kelly Shoppach’s head after another one of those lame three-pitch strikeout at-bats…calling time to run out to third and slap Peralta with his own glove after another mental lapse.

    This would make the Indians instantly watchable again…I’m all for it.

  • Chris M

    @ JD. I pictured the same situations with him simply firing baseballs at them from the dugout.

  • Alex

    You would know Belle by the trail of dead …

  • guyritz

    i was at the grand slam game as a kid, that was amazing.

    i remember during the seattle series in ’95 thinking that the only thing that could possible psych out randy johnson was the whole jake going silent except for the sound of a bell tolling.

  • Harv 21

    Sure, Albert, we believe you about the ‘roids, just like all your denials about the corked bat when it happened. Also, about not intending to throw at the SI photographer. Whatever. But if you won’t manage, can you just give Jhonny some training table/anger inducement tips?

  • http://serandez.blogspot.com Ezzie

    My goodness. It seems like 80,000 were at that game. (Like my sister and father. Hmph.)

    If Albert Belle didn’t steroids… he was a much more impressive player than previously imagined.

    All seriousness: Why would Belle suddenly come out of nowhere to make this call? Why does he care?

  • Pittsburgh is for Man Lovers

    The Tribe needs to make him the manager yesterday. That would be just awesome. I guess I’d be angry too if I made millions of dollars and got away with being a complete jerk because of my ability to hit a ball with a stick really far. Still-make him the manager. I wouldn’t miss a game.

  • Nicko

    Are there any videos out there of the Grand Slam against Lee Smith or the ALDS vs the Orioles (Benitez) where he is flexing and pointing at his muscles saying “Right f’in here”? I also believe he was the founding father of the Crooked Hat. Man I loved Albert Belle.

  • JonCole

    When I was a kid, my parents took my sister and I to an Indians game at the old stadium. The Indians happened to lose that night. As we were walking to our car, we saw where people had lined up because the team was starting to come out to the team bus. We stopped to watch. Some players stopped to sign a few autographs, then went to the bus. Others completely ignored the crowd and went straight to the bus.

    One player stopped and signed as many autographs as he could, including my sister’s hat and my pennant. And no matter what else happened to that player on or off the field after that, I will forever remember that Albert Belle showed a ton of class that night to the fans that hung around, even after a tough loss.

    FWIW

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com/ Rick

    @ Nicko- I have the Cleveland Rocks video they released after that season. It is fantastic. The Grand Slam is on there, the walk off homers on consecutive nights to beat the Blue Jays. That was crazy!

  • Nicko

    I would probably watch that every morning….

  • The Other Tim

    I loved him and that team, but thinking about them ultimately makes me sad. If we couldn’t get it done with all-stars at nearly every position, when will we ever get it done?

  • Ike

    Nobody is calling the guy a model citizen but Belle certainly provided many memorable moments in the mid-90s; moments like the Lee Smith grand slam that are ingrained in my childhood memories and that I will never, ever forget.

  • mike

    i think that flexing was against hte redsox, no?

  • D-Train

    #21 nicko, there aren’t enough youtube videos of the 90′s tribe around. it’s a complete bummer. i could spend hours reliving those days.

  • D-Train

    errr #12 nicko

  • Les_fleurs_du_mal

    @ Alex. That is freaking great. Kudos.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    Great post. I love that Albert called Hoynes to talk Tribe. Hip injuries are the worst. The hip is the hardest joint to stretch. Probably not surprising that such gifted natural athletes like Belle and Bo Jackson would be derailed by hip injuries.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    Great post. I love that Albert called Hoynes to talk Tribe. Hip injuries are the worst. The hip is the hardest joint to stretch. Probably not surprising that such gifted natural athletes like Belle and Bo Jackson would be derailed by hip injuries.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    Great post. I love that Albert called Hoynes to talk Tribe. Hip injuries are the worst. The hip is the hardest joint to stretch. Probably not surprising that such gifted natural athletes like Belle and Bo Jackson would be derailed by hip injuries.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    Great post. I love that Albert called Hoynes to talk Tribe. Hip injuries are the worst. The hip is the hardest joint to stretch. Probably not surprising that such gifted natural athletes like Belle and Bo Jackson would be derailed by hip injuries.

  • http://www.clevelandfrowns.com Cleveland Frowns

    Sorry about that!

  • The Mike

    Don’t worry about it.

  • Omega King

    Ah Joey Belle…the memories….

  • JM

    Albert Belle as manager would be so awesome that I cannot put it into words.