“Of course, it’s a tough task. It’s a task that needs to be accomplished. I don’t care…we play the Yankees, we play the Red Sox, cool… excuse my French but let’s bust their ASS.” This was the answer that Adam Jones gave on ESPN Radio this week when he was asked about being in the AL East and having to face the Yankees and Red Sox on a regular basis. That answer reaffirmed one thing I have always known about Jones: he is on his way to being a superstar and needs to be the future of this franchise.
The Orioles have been the doormats of the AL East for the last three years and have not had a winning season in fourteen years, but Jones clearly does not have that losing mentality. In the beginning of the interview Jones was asked about his mindset this spring after coming off a career year and said, “ I want to win. It’s a team sport, winning is all that matters.” Having this attitude is the only way the Orioles will be able to beat the Red Sox and Yankees in their head-to-head match-ups this season. Jones’ attitude is very refreshing and it is the precise mindset he needs to emerge as the leader on this team.
The Orioles have not had a bona fide superstar since Cal Ripken. While Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis have been the faces of the franchise for the much of the last decade, they are the also the faces of a losing culture. Jones is outspoken, brash and younger than both Roberts and Markakis and needs to be the present and future cornerstone of the Orioles franchise. At just 26 years old, Jones had career highs in home runs (25), doubles (26), RBIs (83) and, most importantly, games (151). And, those numbers should improve in 2012, which will likely land him his second All-Star appearance. Jones is showing he is the five-tool player he was touted to be when he was coming up through the Mariners’ organization. He looks to be living the up to the hype, something the likes of Jeffery Hammonds and Ben McDonald couldn’t do.
I am not saying the Orioles are going to make a miraculous run from worst to first this season, but I believe they have the pieces in place to contend in a few years and Jones is the main piece in that equation. Over the last 25 years the Orioles have been known for drafting high-touted prospects who don’t live up to the hype, a bad farm system and trading away or not resigning players who went on to have major success elsewhere. It’s time for that to change. While not homegrown, Jones was viewed to be one of the best prospects in baseball when he was acquired for Erik Bedard and, unlike many other Orioles prospects, he is living up to the hype.
Instead of Jones’ name being linked to the likes of Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Steve Finley and other Orioles who became stars (and in two cases, borderline Hall of Famers) in other uniforms, let’s add him to the list of people who have played their whole career in Baltimore and had success.
I am 28 years old and luckily for me I got to see Cal Ripken in an Orioles’ uniform, but the younger generation has never seen anything that resembles a star in Baltimore. Enter Adam Jones, the bubble-blowing, outgoing center fielder whose personality off the field and skills on the field are precisely what this franchise has been missing the last decade.
I am a little biased because he is my favorite player, but I truly believe it would set this franchise back for another decade if they do not find a way to keep no. 10 in Charm City for the next ten years – no matter how much money it takes.
We are Baltimore and we need to show the pride that makes us the greatest city in America. Let’s not give in and let Adam Jones end up in New York or Boston or any other major market team that has looted the Orioles for the last decade.
Jones represents Baltimore, so let’s keep him here and watch him bust the ASS of the Yankees and Red Sox for the next decade and bring Baltimore back to the baseball forefront.
Follow Marco on twitter @mromanell