On May 4, Adam Jones became only the eighth player in Orioles history to play 1,500 games with the club.
In response to a Tweet the Orioles sent about the accomplishment that day, Jones said, "Thanks for the opportunity!! Hopefully I could be higher on this list one day."
But here's the thing about that. Former outfielder Paul Blair is seventh all-time with 1,700 games played with the team. Since Jones isn't under contract after this year, it would take a new deal for him to be able to pass anyone else on the list.
Jones' interest in moving up the list would make you think he wants to stay in Baltimore long-term. But will he? That's far murkier. There are both baseball and non-baseball reasons to think it may or may not happen.
The Orioles might try to trade Jones this season, though the center fielder has the right to veto any deal thanks to 10 years of service and five with the same club, otherwise known as 10-and-5 rights. There's also the possibility of the club trading him, then trying to re-sign him after the season -- much like what they did with former shortstop Mike Bordick in 2000.
We'll have plenty of time to wax about our emotions if and when Adam Jones leaves Baltimore. But thinking about the possibility of a world where he isn't an Oriole has been less pleasant than thinking about a baseball team carrying three Rule 5 players on its roster at the same time. Yuck.
If you've read my work or listened to Glenn Clark Radio, you know about the affinity I have for Jones. That's obviously not unique. The many reasons I think so highly of him are the exact same reasons you do. They're also the same reasons his teammates have thought just as highly of him. Some of those teammates have even given him lofty comparisons.
"He cared about the team, and I'll always remember that: sitting on those little benches or up against the railing and looking down the dugout and he was always one of the first guys. It reminded me a lot of [former New York Yankees shortstop] Derek Jeter," former Oriole Jeremy Guthrie said during a Glenn Clark Radio interview April 18.
Guthrie would go on to add that if somehow Jones were to win a World Series in Baltimore, he would parallel Orioles icons like Cal Ripken Jr. and Jim Palmer. I don't think he's wrong. I'm starting to doubt that Jones will ever have that chance, but even being in that conversation is why I think we should have a conversation now about the possibility of the Orioles retiring Jones' number.
Look, Ripken and Palmer are Hall of Famers. Because of that, their numbers are retired in Baltimore and they have statues at Camden Yards. Jones seems like more than a long-shot to ever be recognized in Cooperstown, N.Y., based on any reasonable assumption of what might happen for the rest of his career. When you hear someone discuss the concept of the "Hall of Very Good," it seems like almost an exact definition of Jones' career.
For players who haven't been enshrined in the Hall of Fame, the Orioles have offered a lesser honor. The Orioles Hall of Fame gives former players a fun weekend of being recognized in Baltimore and forever having their name etched on a plaque near a Eutaw Street bathroom. Roberto Alomar, who played three seasons in Baltimore, and Bordick are among the players recognized in the team Hall of Fame.
The Orioles Hall of Fame isn't enough to truly recognize what Jones has done for Baltimore. The man has been the walking representation of turning around a franchise that had become a perennial loser to one that made playoff runs and deserved respect. Whenever his time in Baltimore concludes -- which could be imminent or still years from now -- he deserves more than to have his name recognized near a bathroom.
Guthrie suggested the team perhaps not formerly retire Jones' number but instead simply choose to take it out of circulation for some time. It's a reasonable idea. But Jones deserves something more formal than that. The man chose to stay in Baltimore back in 2012 for less money than he could've gotten on the open market, and he has been insanely committed to the city even beyond the field since he arrived.
If you want to save statues for Hall of Famers, that's fine. But for everything he's done for this franchise and this community, whenever Jones' time in Baltimore comes to an end, no one should wear No. 10 in Baltimore again.