Orioles fans are on a first name basis with the franchise’s all-time greats.
There’s Brooks, Frank, Eddie, Boog, Brady, Cal—and soon they’ll be joined by Adam.
Adam Jones, already one of the best players in Orioles franchise history, will soon leave an unforgettable mark on the team.
It’s not just his outsized personality or his record of community involvement. It's his ability to connect with fans.
Check out the concourse before an Orioles game and you'll see dozens of African American fans--and not a few white fans--wearing his jersey.
Even though Jones doesn’t live in Baltimore fulltime, he’s one of the few Orioles to own property here, and he gets Baltimore.
One of the best investments the Orioles made in recent years was their six-year extension to Jones. With two years remaining on it, Jones has been remarkably consistent.
He’s hit 25 or more home runs and driven in 80 runs for six straight seasons.
While his batting average dipped to .265 and he had a rough last month of the season, batting just .223 from Sept. 2 on, Jones hit much better after he was moved to the leadoff spot in late May.
Jones was hitting just .223 on May 27, and hit .282 as a leadoff batter.
Manager Buck Showalter wants to move Jones out of the leadoff spot, thinking Jones will be more productive lower in the lineup.
The 2017 lineup isn’t likely to feature Mark Trumbo, so there’ll be a place for Jones. Of course, the Orioles will have to find a suitable leadoff hitter to replace him.
In the season just past, Jones continued to climb up the Orioles all-time lists.
He’s currently ninth in hits with 1,448, but with 167 hits next year, he would end 2017 trailing only Cal Ripken, Brooks Robinson and Eddie Murray on the all-time list.
Jones currently trails Brian Roberts by four hits and Ken Singleton by seven. With a hundred more hits, he’ll pass Nick Markakis, and he’s 126 away from Boog Powell. Brady Anderson is fourth with 1,614 hits.
Jones is already sixth on the team’s homer list with 222. With his next home run, he’ll tie Rafael Palmeiro for fifth place, and with two seasons left on his contract, he’ll take aim at Brooks Robinson’s 268 homers.
His contractual situation may be a tricky one. While he’s had an outstanding four years, the Orioles need to address Chris Tillman, Manny Machado and perhaps Zach Britton and Jonathan Schoop before they get around to a player who’ll be 33 two years from now.
Jones could make it easy (or harder) on them if he has two more years approaching his last four.
He was the first of this group to sign an extension, in May 2012, and since them he’s watched J.J. Hardy, Darren O’Day and Chris Davis follow suit.
His place in team history is assured even though without a World Series title, they may not erect a seventh statue to honor him.
Jones’ time in Baltimore has been honorable. Not only the community involvement and the stellar play, but in recent years he’s become the team spokesman.
In the latter part of 2015 and through much of 2016, Jones has been the go-to guy—not when the team wins—but when it loses—and others hide.
His best interviews have come after bad streaks, bad losses or controversial incidents.
Jones was won over by Hyun Soo Kim, and when a beer can was tossed at Kim during the wild-card game in Toronto, there was Jones looking for the miscreant and addressing it afterward.
In his time in Baltimore he’s seen treasured teammates leave. He hurt when Nick Markakis, who he admired for his lack of pretension, left two years ago.
He stood up for Davis and met with Peter Angelos to make a case for increased payroll and refused to knock Orioles fans for small crowds at crucial games.
This offseason, Jones could see Matt Wieters, who’s second to him in tenure, go as well.
He knows not to get too attached to teammates. When Steve Clevenger made disparaging comments on Twitter, Jones said that most of his teammates were acquaintances and not friends.
But, he is attached to speaking out on social issues. Last month after he spoke about race and baseball to a national publication, Jones followed that up with a 12 ½ minute interview about the subject, both reiterating and expanding on his comments, which were perfectly reasonable.
It’s perfectly reasonable to expect at least two more good seasons—and maybe more—from Jones, excuse me, from Adam.
Cal, Brooks, Frank, Boog, Adam. Sounds about right.