It isn’t surprising that Adam Jones tried to diffuse a potentially sticky situation when he met with reporters in Phoenix before Monday night’s game.
Jones used Twitter to complain about a fan throwing a banana at him on Sunday in San Francisco instead of his postgame comments with a handful of reporters, didn’t want the issue to become a distraction.
The Orioles star center fielder likes calling attention to himself, and revealing the ugly incident on Twitter rather than in his postgame chat, was a way of putting the incident out there where it was sure to draw lots of attention.
For the moment, Jones is the Orioles’ only African American player and along with Chris Davis, the team’s most popular players. He’s used his position for lots of good, becoming involved with efforts to get more young African Americans to play baseball, even sponsoring and mentoring a team in Baltimore.
He’s become active in charities, and he’s used off days to make unpublicized appearances on their behalf.
Not only is Jones deservedly popular with Baltimore’s African American community, he’s a true crossover star, appealing to a diverse group of fans.
With seven weeks left in the regular season, Jones was able to put aside his anger about the incident. Even though a fan told the San Jose Mercury News he was throwing the banana in disgust at the Giants for their poor performance, it was in the direction of the only African American player on the field.
The Orioles have had other big African American stars in recent years, Eddie Murray and Albert Belle, but they were polarizing figures. Only Eric Davis, who was here for two years in the 90s’ had a similar appeal to the team’s African American fans.
Jones doesn’t want to become a polarizing figure. He wants to be admired, and even more than that, wants to play in a World Series. He wants this incident behind him so that he and his teammates can concentrate on getting there.