So, Andrew Luck, almost a lock to be the first pick in April’s NFL Draft, has decided to stay at Stanford for his redshirt junior season in 2011.
Well, Andrew, good luck with that.
I thought Stanford guys were smart? Another season of college football when millions could be had simply by making yourself available?
If I were advising Luck, I’d probably punch him in the mouth first.
Stanford issued a short statement, including a quote from Luck about how he was on track to earn his degree in architectural design in the spring’ of 2012. OK, but he’s on track to become a multi-millionaire sometime this spring or summer.
What if Luck returns to Stanford but Coach Jim Harbaugh doesn’t? What if some new coach puts in a new offensive system that’s not as comfortable for Luck? And, of course, what if he gets hurt?
I know Stanford is a different place and that the the students there are great at thinking outside of the box. But Luck is thinking outside the universe, isn’t he?
A Stanford degree is worth a lot, but not nearly as much as being the top pick in the draft. Yes, there is some unrest about the labor situation in the NFL. An owner’s lock-out is possible. As I sit here today, I can’t promise there will even be a 2011 season.
Maybe Luck knows something I don’t. Wait, that’s a foolish statement. Obviously he knows a lot I don’t. He attends Stanford.
But in deciding to return, isLuck sending us code that Harbaugh, too, will stay at Stanford?
I’m sure Luck’s decision will be dissected by all of the usual pundits. This news surprised, if not shocked, me. I was certain Luck would go to the NFL because I assumed he’s as shallow as I am and all about the money.
Obviously, he’s not. He’s a Stanford man who wants that prestigious degree. He believes the NFL can wait. He’s taking a risk. Best of luck, Luck.
A sports writer’s memories
Today, it’s all about Roberto Alomar, who Wednesday was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame with 90 percent of the vote.
Alomar, one of the greatest second basemen in baseball history, spent the 1987 with the Double-A Wichita Pilots in the Texas League. It was the first year for Double-A baseball in Wichita; the Triple-A Wichita Aeros folded following the 1984 season after a 15-year run.
I covered the Pilots in ’87 and was thrilled to do so. I love minor league baseball and am still kicking myself for not going to more Wranglers games before that team ultimately left town after the 2008 season and re-located to Northwest Arkansas.
Alomar was a star then. He was always a star. He just had it, and even though he was only 19 during his season in Wichita, it was easy to tell he was going places.
I know Alomar, from Puerto Rico, struggled with his English that season. But he was always cordial and, as I recall, one of the most gregarious players on that team full of characters that included outfielders Jerald Clark and Thomas Howard, first baseman Brad Pounders, starting pitcher Greg Harris and catcher Sandy Alomar, Jr., Roberto’s brother.
My favorite guy on that team was Pounders, who ripped the cover off the baseball. I thought he was a sure-fire big leaguer, but never even made it to the bigs. Pounders, who had 27 homers and 89 RBIs in only 79 games with the Pilots in 1987, retired after playing with Triple-A Las Vegas in 1989, unable to stay healthy enough for a full season.
Clark, Howard, Harris and Sandy Alomar went on to have fine major league careers. But none approached that of Robbie Alomar, who I remember as a guy who always had a smile on his face and a tireless worker driven to be great. He never showed the temper that he did when he spit at MLB umpire John Hirschbeck in 2001, when Alomar was with the Baltimore Orioles.
That incident, in the opinion of many, cost Alomar entrance into the Hall of Fame in his first season eligible. Instead, he was voted in in Year 2.
Here’s a feature story I wrote on Alomar during the Texas League Championship Series in ’87:
JACKSON, Miss. – Wichita Pilots manager Steve Smith rates shortstop
Roberto Alomar among the top five percent of all the players he’s
“And he’s only 19 years old,” Smith said. “I’ve never had a
19-year-old like that. The other guys in that five percent are all 23-24
Anybody who has watched the Pilots this season knows Alomar is one
big reason the team has reached the Texas League Championship Series,
which resumes tonight in Jackson with Wichita holding a 2-1 advantage in
the best- of-seven series. Alomar has been a consistently outstanding
hitter all year long, and his defense, which was sub-par early, now at
times is eye-popping.
The switch-hitting Puerto Rican has played his first season at
shortstop, and he’s been getting rave reviews. After struggling with his
throwing during the first half of the season, it’s now a surprise when
he makes an error.
“For him to learn how to play shortstop as quickly as he has, is
unbelievable,” said Smith, a former middle infielder himself who made it
as far as Triple-A. “The first month, he was so timid with his throwing,
and his range was limited. Now, he’s making outstanding plays. He’s
learned to play the position in front of everybody’s eyes.”
Not that there were many skeptics. Alomar has been touted as one of
the finest prospects in baseball since the day he was signed by the
Padres as a free agent before the summer of 1985. Last year, he led the
Class-A California League in hitting at Reno.
The rate that Alomar is climbing the ladder, though, is somewhat
unexpected. Many now expect him to show up in San Diego sometime next
summer – perhaps before his 20th birthday.
“Second base is my natural position, but now I think of myself as a
shortstop,” said Alomar. I have learned a lot, and Smitty has really
helped me a lot. When I started, I was afraid to throw the ball. Smitty
just told me not to be afraid – if I throw the ball away, I throw it
away. Now, I feel good.”
Shortstops with Alomar’s kind of ability at the plate don’t crop up
He hit .319 for the Pilots this season, the eighth-best mark in the
Texas League. Though he hadn’t clubbed more than four homers in a
season, he had 12 this year and drove in 68 runs, a remarkable total for
a No. 1 hitter.
Alomar added 42 doubles to his power statistics and stole 43 bases,
third in the league.
“This year, I improved as a right-handed hitter,” said Alomar, who
batted .290 from the right side to go with his .331 mark as a
left-handed hitter. And I had some power.”
Alomar will probably emerge as a No. 2 hitter somewhere down the
line, Smith says.
“He didn’t draw a lot of walks this year, but I don’t think that’s
because he couldn’t,” said the Pilots’ skipper. “He’s just such a good
hitter that he can handle a lot of pitches that a normal leadoff hitter
probably would take. He really knows how to turn on the ball when he
needs to, also.”
The confident Alomar says he’s going to spring training next season
with the idea of leaving Yuma, Ariz., the Padres’ training site, with
“Playing shortstop for me wasn’t easy at first,” he said.
Now, though, it’s becoming second nature.