Last week RA12 was eliminated from the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente playoffs. They were swept by the team likely to win the LBPRC crown and only found themselves in the playoffs thanks to a limited field of four teams competing in the league this season. The end of RA12’s season felt much like their entire season, a foregone conclusion. From the moment Roberto Alomar announced his intentions for his new club there was little doubt where the season would take them and how things would go.
In July of 2020, Roberto Alomar announced that he would be entering a team into the LBPRC. The more news that came out about this venture the more skeptical I became about the team. Alomar naming the team RA12 made me think the team was all about his ego. When he announced that the roster would only consist of Puerto Rican players who are at or around a Rookie-level in terms of skill I thought he was being crazy. As the season progressed and RA12 was blown out in most games and ended the season with a (regular and postseason) record of 2-20 I felt vindicated in my response to Alomar’s new team. All season long I bashed Alomar’s intentions with his team. I went after the team’s results on Twitter, in articles, and on various baseball groups. I was, wrong.
There is a deeper intention behind what Alomar is doing. One that I should have seen from the beginning, but missed for two reasons.
First, I don’t pay attention to amateur baseball at all and that left me in the dark about what Alomar has been trying to do for years now within the Puerto Rican amateur scene. My ignorance about the amateur ranks in Puerto Rico doesn’t excuse me not doing my job and looking deeper into the relation between PR12, Alomar’s amateur organization centered on Puerto Rican players, and RA12. For years now Alomar has been using his considerable resources to give more opportunities to Puerto Rican amateurs to play baseball at a higher level. His reason for this is simple; he wants to see Puerto Rico return to a place of prominence on the worldwide baseball stage.
Second, I focused too much on RA12’s box score results and not the results that mattered. As a professional team, it does matter what RA12 produces on the field. Whether they win or lose is important, not just for the team but for the health of LBPRC in general. At the same time, RA12 is a project team. They exist to give young Puerto Rican professionals a chance to see in-game action against a higher level of talent than they otherwise would normally. That is going to result in some rough days for them, but the hope is that it will also result in lessons learned and them being better players down the line.
RA12 was heavily overmatched during the 2020-2021 season. Their results speak to this, but it’s important to note that as the season progressed the final game scores were closer and RA12 suffered fewer and fewer blowout losses. They even won a couple of games, which for a team full of Rookie-level talent in a league that is consistently at least AAA-level, or better, is a heck of an accomplishment. Alomar took some of the best prospects in Puerto Rico and put together a roster of mainly 20-year-olds. Playing against veterans from all over the world they were eventually able to, at the bare minimum, hold their own.
All the above being true, I’d still like to see Alomar give his team a better shot at succeeding on the field in the seasons moving forward. Adding a couple of veteran players wouldn’t change his mission, but it would help his young Puerto Rican players to perhaps win more while also gaining valuable experience from the veterans they are learning from. It’s not a necessary move, but one that I feel would help Alomar to carry on his mission while helping the team to have better results.
If RA12 returns next season and is still a team full of 20-year-olds they will likely have the same results as they did this season. That’s okay as long as all the rough days lead to the revitalization of Puerto Rican baseball that is the goal of Alomar and his squad. RA12 represents an exception to the pro baseball landscape. Winning isn’t the only goal, rather the return of Puerto Rican baseball greatness. That’s something I think we should all be in favor of and why RA12 deserves more support than scorn.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – El Nuevo Dia