Published On: Fri, Jun 8th, 2018

Adam Jones Q&A: On his Orioles legacy, diversity in MLB, and Korean BBQ

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Under the personality-stifling dominion of Major League Baseball, few players dare to be as real as Adam Jones, the outspoken, politically engaged Baltimore Orioles star outfielder who’s quickly approaching a watershed moment in his illustrious career. With free agency looming and the floundering Orioles in dire need of a rebuild, Jones’ 11-year tenure in Baltimore seems all but destined to end in the coming months, if not sooner.

Recently, the five-time All-Star – and veritable Orioles icon – chatted with theScore about everything from diversity in the big leagues to his favorite eats in Baltimore.

Jonah Birenbaum: Adam, how do you view your own legacy in Baltimore?

Adam Jones: Oof. Dropped a bombshell on me. To be honest with you, I’ve never thought about that. I think that being there a decade and a year, a lot of kids grew up on me, (me) being in their adolescence or teenage years or college years. Ten years of a lot of people’s lives, they’ve watched me play baseball there, so in a sense, a lot of people in Baltimore have grown up with me. That’s cool when you think about that. The reason why you go out there and play is for the fans, so as a legacy it’s just more of a I was able to show up to work every day and give it my all. Some days, it’s pretty. Some days, it’s not. But I was able to show up to work every day.

JB: As one of the league’s most prominent black players, is there any added significance for you, having emerged as an icon in a vibrant black city like Baltimore?

AJ: I’ve thought about that, being on the side of the African-Americans, but it’s more – I think it’s good just to be able to have the longevity and the respect of your peers. Other players, front offices, they see the way I play the game, what I bring to the communities of Baltimore. And I’m not the only one – there are lots of great players of all races doing very good things in their local communities – but it’s just part of who I am. This is not a facade. This is just the genuine me. It’s easy to do that. You know, it’s easy to be myself. A lot of people try to be other people, but it’s always been easy for me to be myself.


JB: Following up on some of the comments you made a couple years ago, are you at all encouraged by the fact that African-Americans were more represented (8.4 percent) on Opening Day rosters in 2018 than they were last year (7.7 percent)?

AJ: Well, hey: an improvement is an improvement. You look and there’s talent everywhere. I just think that everybody deserves a shot if they’re good enough. I’ve always been an advocate that I want to take the best player. I really don’t care what race he is. But also don’t discriminate on people just because of their race. If the better man is better, take the better man; if he’s pink, orange, red, yellow, blue, it doesn’t matter. Take the better choice. That’s all I’m an advocate for.

JB: You’ve said it the past that you want to play until you’re 40 – still feel that way?

AJ: After four games on this turf (at Rogers Centre) I probably won’t. But yeah, that’s a goal that I really want to attain. But first and foremost, I got to have a job next year.

JB: Fair enough. But if you do hang around until you’re 40, what’s one thing about Major League Baseball you want to see changed?

AJ: Stop changing all the rules. I get that evolution is evolution, so certain things can be altered. But the game has taken too many twists and turns to appease certain people. First and foremost, it’s about the players, and you have to – I’m not going to say appease us, but there’s a lot of things going on right now in baseball that just didn’t happen when I first got to the big leagues. And people can say what they want, but I’ve been around in the locker room – not in the stands but in the locker room – so I’ve seen the changes, and as a veteran player, I don’t necessarily like all of them. I abide by them because, hey, the game is the game, and I got to follow the rules. But I would just hope that the game just goes back to – well it’s not going to ever go back to what it was – but just stop doing all this unnecessary fining for dumb stuff.

JB: Like what, specifically?

AJ: I ain’t going to get in to that. There’s just a lot of unnecessary (stuff) that’s going on in baseball. And I get it. But at the end of the day, I’m a veteran player and I don’t have to like it. I got to abide by it.


JB: Alright, so when you do retire – be it before 40 or after – you’re going to have lots of time to eat. I know you’re a big food guy, so what’s your favorite road city to eat in?

AJ: (Toronto’s) good. I mean, every road city’s offering great things. Obviously, New York is the crème de la crème because of all the options that New York presents. Seattle’s great: seafood, steaks. Kansas City’s got good meat – obviously, the barbecue’s there. Tampa, you can get into Bern’s Steakhouse, get yourself some good food. Lately, I’ve been going to Korean barbecue. That’s been my latest kick the last two years. Hyun Soo Kim was here and he introduced me to Korean barbecue and it’s … I try to get it once every road trip. I think I’m going to go either tonight or tomorrow night to go get some because it’s phenomenal and I like cooking it. (Editor’s note: He went.)

JB: Nice. What are your go-to spots in Baltimore?

AJ: My favorite eats in Baltimore: The Food Market. La Food Marketa. Great, great spots if you’re ever in Baltimore. The Food Market is closer to the city. Abbey Burger Bistro – that’s where I got (my own) burger on the menu – is a cool, low-key spot. People don’t really bother you in there. Get yourself a nice burger and a beer and go home. Blue Moon for breakfast. Big Shirley’s for breakfast – uh, Miss Shirleys; I call it Big Shirley’s. What else? I’m leaving out so many good places I know, for sure. Um … Tagliata. The Elk Room. Those are in Harbor East in Baltimore. These are just some names I’m dropping. Baltimore’s food is really, really impressive.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)



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