The Transactional Kenny Lofton

Kenny Lofton played for the Astros, the Braves, the White Sox, the Giants, the Pirates, the Cubs, the Dodgers, and the Rangers. But he was always a Cleveland Indian.
Share |

The Kenny Lofton of my childhood existed in still images. This is not to say he was static figure, unmoving or lumbering. Everybody knows the opposite is true. But Lofton had the quality of looking like he was constantly posing, even while in motion, as if his every movement deserved the attention of a frame, a caption, as if his every breath deserved to live on singularly for generations. I am thinking of the Cleveland Kenny here, diving head first into third base with that toothy smile/grimace of his open for business after a triple; focused absolutely on the point of contact with what will soon become a line drive; considering the meaning of a long fly ball as he glides toward it in the gap.

Lofton appeared in the major leagues a fully formed, historical figure—not only in the sense of being productive (he was very productive) but in the sense of occupying a classic baseball role as speedy, stylish leadoff-hitting outfielder. In his first full season, with the Indians in 1992, Lofton  got on base at a .362 clip, stole 66 bases, and played a beautiful center field. For the next four seasons he did pretty much the exact same thing, leading off for an Indians team full of bashers and mashers and Carlos Baergas. Then, just before the 1997 season, Lofton was traded to Atlanta in one of the biggest blockbusters of the ‘90s: Lofton and reliever Alan Embree for outfielders David Justice and Marquis Grissom.

This is where the Kenny Lofton story stops fitting into the pre-ascribed narrative box. It is where Kenny Lofton stopped becoming a player defined by style and substance and the unspooling of infinite Kodak moments, and became a player defined by transactions. My theory is that Kenny Lofton never wanted to be a player defined by transactions.

The trade was a milestone in the run-up toward our current era in which teams maneuver for years ahead based on impending free agencies. Atlanta needed to clear cap space to try and extend Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux. Cleveland saw Lofton, in a free agent year, as likely to leave anyway—and leave them with a big hole in center field. (Albert Belle had burned them the year before). The deal was also a huge success. The Indians made the World Series without Lofton, only to be defeated by the silly upstart Marlins. Justice was their most productive hitter. In Atlanta, Lofton hit .333 and put up 5.5 Wins Above Replacement despite missing 40 games to injury. The Braves won 101 games and held onto both Glavine and Maddux. The next season, Andruw Jones took over in center field for Atlanta. Marquis Grissom departed for Milwaukee.

And Lofton? He went back to Cleveland, reclaimed his position in center field, and made himself a hero in certain parts of Ohio. After all, Kenny Lofton was, in his heart of hearts, a Cleveland Indian. (He’s still the kind of guy who calls into local sports talk radio to stand up for fans when Chris Perez talks down to them). Signing a long-term contract with a team that traded you less than a year before is not a normal thing. A normal thing would be to feel abandoned, betrayed, and go get your paycheck somewhere else. But Lofton resisted that. Lofton was part of a community. Kenny Lofton did not want to be defined by transactions.

Take his reaction upon getting traded:

“I can’t really think too well right now,” he said. “Maybe I can say I’m disappointed. I’ve done everything they’ve asked me to do in Cleveland, and I thought I would be rewarded. I guess they rewarded me by trading me to Atlanta.”

These are not the words of an unfeeling mercenary. These are the words of a person with a stake in a franchise and a city. So Lofton gets over it. He comes back, and in doing so he seems to be laying the foundation for spending the rest of his career with a team that traded him. He will not be a Mickey Mantle who spent 18 years with one team, but he will be something less pure but somehow more honorable: a player who overcame the inertia of his era to spend his career in a place he loves, playing for fans he understands. And not a glamorous place, either. Cleveland.

Here are a few of the players who have been traded by a team only to re-sign with them the following offseason as a free agent: Rickey Henderson, Shawon Dunston, Geoff Blum, Sidney Ponson, Sandy Alomar Jr., Craig Counsell, Orlando Hernandez, Doug Mirabelli. (Thanks to the folks on Twitter who helped me out with this, especially Colin Wyers). Most of those guys were journeymen, plying their trade for whoever, wherever. Dunston had two stints each with the Cubs, Giants, and Cardinals. Henderson merits a PhD dissertation unto himself, having signed with the A’s on three separate occasions and having been traded by them twice, but nobody is mistaking him for a true hero of Oakland. Counsell had a special connection with Arizona, you could argue. Same might be true for Mirabelli with Boston and Hernandez with New York. But none on the level of Kenny Lofton’s connection with Cleveland.

He spent another four years there. Then, after the 2001 offseason, Cleveland decided to rebuild. The Indians let Lofton, Juan Gonzalez, Roberto Alomar, and Marty Cordova (he was good then!) walk away. Lofton, who had made $8 million the previous season, signed for just one year and $1.025 million to play center field for the White Sox. Unable to overcome the vagaries of his era, he fell into the awkward role of journeyman. In just five seasons, Lofton played on the South Side of Chicago, in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, Wrigleyville, the Bronx, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Arlington.

You might say that Kenny Lofton was sort of like Odysseus, yearning always to get back to Ithaca. He played the part of a captain lost at sea, and he played it well. But really he was always meant to be a king; always at his best in the context of his kingdom. Odysseus made it home where eventually he was mistakenly killed by his own son. Lofton made it home too, for a few brief months at the end of 2007, lighting Cleveland up for one final playoff run. He retired after game seven of the ALCS, having been ingloriously held up at third on a Franklin Gutierrez single in his last time on base, once again a Cleveland Indian, but not the Cleveland Indian he could have been.

Illustration by Mike McGrath of Double Scribble


Share |

Comments

Terrance Mann’s words mean nothing if they don’t extend into the past and the future, stretched like the arms of Paul Assenmacher getting ready to face one more left handed batter in his glorious one-third of an inning.....
psychic medium

I hope you will share such type of impressive contents again with us so that we can utilize it and get more advantage. emergency plumbers los angeles

CAT score time line. The score cards for download will be available till December 31, 2013. After the mentioned date, score cards would not be available for download.
plumbing

I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..
lake arrowhead

Couples can express their gratitude by giving guests these party favor jars, created by Paper Patch Creations in Newbury Park, Calif., to hold candy or a personal note. recommended reading

Excellent Blog! I have been impressed by your thoughts and the way you how to get discounts on car insurance

Your blogs are easily accessible and quite enlightening so keep doing the amazing work guys.life insurance policy terms quote

Thanks to share these details it’s truly nice. virginia online payday loan

photography, the frame holds a faded sticky note. To any stranger, it’s hardly worth noticing. But for me, that sticky note has been a crucial part of my life since Dad’s death.
Weed Laws

I read your blogs regularly. Your humoristic way is amusing, continue the good work! zcodesystemreview.org

stretched like the arms of Paul Assenmacher getting ready to face one more left handed batter in his glorious one-third of an inning.Michael

but I am much healthier and happier!! If you have the chance to work with Jenna I highly recommend you do. delhi to jaipur cab

Your texts on this subject are correct, see how I wrote this site is really very good. Ex Factor Guide Review

Thanks for the entire information you have given here to impart knowledge amongst us? Mobile Optin

This is exciting, nevertheless it is vital for you to visit this specific url: The Woman Men Adore and Never Leave

I’m happy to find so many useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing.
Inspirational quotes for kids

I’ll bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…I’m happy to find so many useful info here in the post, we need work out more techniques in this regard, thanks for sharing....
water damage information

big fan. Keep up the good work and please tell me when can you publish more articles or where can I read more on the subjectphysical therapy in nyc

It's not my very first time to visit this blog; I’m visiting this daily and acquire superb info from here day by day. freefollower.net

Arsenal talks shelved, the dream lineup did not last long enough for even one REM cycle and is instead confined to FIFA 13 matches. vivi hentai manga - tumblr

Nintendo certainly isn't a perfect corporate cuNintendo certainly isn't a perfect corporate culture (as I've learned both through books like Game Over and off-the-record anecdotes alike..lture (as I've learned both through books like Game Over and off-the-record anecdotes alike..
seo experts

certainly isn't a perfect corporate culture (as I've learned both through books like Game Over and off-the-record anecdotes alike.
Digital Strategy

You should mainly superior together with well-performing material, which means that see it: garcinia cambogia canada

Interestingly you write, I will address you'll find exciting and interesting things on similar topics. Talk To His Heart Review

I will prefer this blog because it has much more informative stuff.online payday loan lenders only

Gives you the best website address I know there alone you'll find how easy it is. The Instant Switch

Here at this site really the fastidious material collection so that everybody can enjoy a lot. youcam perfect download

Kilian Hennessy presided over the House from 1945 to 1975. This visionary founded the Hennessy Social Institute (1947) and initiated the merger with Moët & Chandon (1971) as well as the creation of the LVMH Group (1987), for which he serKilian Hennessy presided over the House from 1945 to 1975. This visionary founded the Hennessy Social Institute (1947) and initiated the merger with Moët & Chandon (1971) as well as the creation of the LVMH Group (1987), for which he served as the very first Honorary President.ved as the very first Honorary President.
Product launch

that people would say things like that and no one would call them on it. That’s not the point of Baseball Tonight, at the time. The point of Baseball Tonight was not to have Karl Ravech say, “Defend that statement!” So, you know—
launch products on Amazon

thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well.lawyer

You should mainly superior together with well-performing material, which means that see it: What Men Secretly Want

Your blog audit would swell up your visitors. I was very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!!
Healthy Living

It’s very informative and you are obviously very knowledgeable in this area. You have opened my eyes to varying views on this topic with interesting and solid content. Language of Desire

I have learnt various good stuff right here, and I’m sure everyone will get advantage of it.
cash advance

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job ! Rocket Spanish

remembering what happened with Higuain and you tell yourself, “He’ll probably just wind up going to Madrid, anyway.
pheromone colognes

I really like your writing style and how you express your ideas. Thank you. download torrents

Thanks for your insight for your fantastic posting. I’m glad I have taken the time to see this http://www.vinylpergola.org

csharing this great blog.Very inspiring and helpful too.Hope you continue to share more of your ideas.I will definitely love to read.financing for business

Once I thought about things like : why such information is for free here ? Because when you write a book then at least on selling a book you get a percentage. Thank you and good luck on informing people more about it
business lending

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own Blog Engine blog now. places to visit in ajmer

I'm certainly very happy to read this blog site posts which carries plenty of helpful data, thanks for providing such information.
life ins

Thank you for another great article. Where else could anyone get that kind of presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information. buy mixcloud plays

As these days technology development, we know that the Games for any console like PlayStation, Personal Computer or PC, and even Mobile phone such as iOS or Android Games has already did their movement to many step ahead than 5 years ago, playing game has so much fun, it can makes our feeling like we don't have any problem though the truth is not like that, yet playing game also bring the disadvantage like we will be addicted to play the game and forgot on how precious the time is that we have wasted for, well you can get http://www.avandagame.com on Avanda Game, it is provided any kind of game to be downloaded such as Android Games and etc.and by the time you download the game, you should have known how to install and play it, we also have provided every tutorials like android tutorials on Vin Android, Vin Android has a multi function website which serve you to get many Tutorials to be read like http://www.vinandroid.com on How to Root Samsung Galaxy, Andromax Smartphone without pc, and many more.ClashBot uses the capacities of BlueStacks, an Android Emulator and the main pre-essential is .NET 4.5.1 , which you presumably as of now have, you can also Free Download Coc Clashbot Clash of Clans 7.9.1 Auto Farm Hack on http://www.avandagame.com/2015/12/coc-clashbots-clash-of-clans-7-9-1-aut... to get full access to Clashbots of COC for free withou survey, or even password.Well, Do you know Alvin Game? it is similar to Avanda Game, why? because it is provide you many game to be Download for Free, you can play it also through the website and find the save game on it, Alvin Game is curated by Muhammad Avanda Alvin, he lives in petro dollar city which is Lhokseumawe, Aceh, so what are you waiting for, go and get your http://www.alvingame.com on How to Download Free Games as soon as possible. We Research 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 cars on Car and Driver. Our new car reviews and car buying resources help you make informed decisions. Car and Driver car reviews are designed to help you to make a smart purchase.ou can also try to find out any specifications or even prices of the cars you want on http://www.carspecspricereview.com for any information around the Cars Specifications, Price and Review Apakah kamu seorang pecinta Bokep? kalau iya, kamu berada ditempat yang tepat, karena Memek Semok akan segera membagikan kamu banyak Foto Foto Memek Tembem dan tentunya foto bugil artis juga ada, tunggu apalagi, dapatkan sekarang http://www.memeksemok.com hanya di Memek Semok. Pengen buat rumah tapi belum punya ide sama sekali tentang bagaimana desain yang ingin dirancang dan bentuk rumah yang ingin dimiliki? kini Muhammad Avanda Alvin akan membantu kamu untuk mendapatkan berbagai macam Bentuk dan http://www.modeldesainrumah.net secara langsung hanya didalam websitenya, kamu akan mendapatkan apa saja yang kamu inginkan seputar model desain rumah seperti rumah minimalis dan berbagai macam lainnya.Dan apakah kamu pengen tau bagaimana cara menghilangkan jerawat, cara membuat kue yang enak, cara memasak dan beragam macam cara lainnya? caranya cukup mudah yaitu silahkan kunjungi website http://caragoogle.com dan dapatkan segala macam Tips dan Trik juga Tutorials yang lengkap didalamnya, ingat, hanya di Cara Google! Suka cari Video Lucu, Gambar Unik, dan Lagu Lagu Terbaru yang lagi Top Trends? kalau begitu silahkan langsung kunjungi http://www.alvintube.com yang bisa memudahkan kamu untuk Download Lagu Mp3 Terbaru, Video Lucu, Gambar dan hal yang lainnya secara gratis, tunggu apalagi? Kunjungi sekarang juga.

grasp on the subject matter, but you forgot to include your readers. Perhaps you should think about this from more than one angle.
Low obl backlinks

I located this blog! From time to time, students want to cognitive the keys of productive literary essays composing.... Cannabis Oil

It looks like you spend a lot of effort and time on your blog. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles.samsung dryer repair

I have bookmarked your website because this site contains valuable information in it. I am really happy with articles quality and presentation.samsung dryer repair

I would like to thank you for the efforts you have made in writing this article. I am hoping the same best work from you in the future as well. In fact your creative writing abilities has inspired me to start my own Blog Engine blog now. Really the blogging is spreading its wings rapidly. Your write up is a fine example of it. Diabetes Destroyer

happens to include antique-American restaurants in Tribeca and co-guitaring with volatile tennis legends. Mostly, though, it's about presence..
gifts for golf