Adam Jones is all about baseball’s exciting future and how it’s being driven by the energy of players from all over the world. “The wave of showing emotion is coming,” Jones told me during a recent conversation right after the World Baseball Classic. “There’s more Latins coming. There are more African-Americans coming. It’s coming and the fan really likes it. There’s still that old-school fan that is like, ‘Oh, man, why didn’t you do this and why didn’t you do that? I don’t like this.’ And you’re going to have to let that go, brother.”
Jones, a former 5-time All-Star for the Baltimore Orioles and face of the previous WBC, has become an ambassador for the game and an advocate for a new generation of players, spreading the gospel of baseball without sacrificing the authenticity that has always made him a great quote and a consequential voice. And he’s not limiting his reach to the Major Leagues or even just the United States.
Following a playing career that came to a close after two years spent playing in Japan, Jones has embraced world travel and the power of fresh experiences, setting his base of operations in Barcelona. Down the line, he’d like to work in the front office for a team, but right now he’s in a spot that allows him to influence and support the growth of the game in Spain, France, and in other parts of the world. He’s also staying close to his former peers and baseball culture drivers as the host of The Adam Jones Podcast on The Baltimore Banner, a must-hear chat show with Jones, co-host Jerry Coleman, and a guest list that includes the likes of CC Sabathia, Ken Griffey Jr., and Orioles All-Star Cedric Mullins, among others.
In our conversation with Jones, we spoke at length recently about the above, from what the WBC means for baseball’s growth potential as we head into Opening Day to fans who can’t get out of the old way of thinking, why he loves hyping up young players, and his hunger for exploration, travel, and exposing his kids to a world of culture. But above all was the theme of being an outright fan of on-field emotion and players being able to be themselves.
How does baseball keep the momentum going following what was just one of the most epic baseball culture things we’ve seen in our lifetime?
This is the fifth World Baseball Classic. I played in the previous two. And obviously, it gets better and better and better and better. That’s just everything. And I said this earlier, baseball won. Team Japan won. Team USA. But the whole conglomerate of baseball won in Latin America, Europe, Great Britain, Israel, the Czech Republic. There are so many stories you can take away from so many different teams, so many highlights, and emotions. It was an unbelievable experience. It’s hard to duplicate that 162 [times].
But I think some of the American fans, they need to just realize that these players aren’t from where you’re from. And where they’re from, they play this game with passion, emotion, some flair. You’re not used to it. So what? Adapt to it. They’ve adapted to you. They’ve adapted to the American culture. They’ve adapted to American cuisine. Let them be who they are.
You need some flair. What Randy Arozarena did, he’s not going to do all that during the season because it’s a long season. On a (random) Tuesday night, no one gives a rat’s ass, but you need that excitement. You need to let these players who come from multiple backgrounds be who they are. Like any other thing, if you let someone be who they are, especially an athlete, you get the best of them. And this WBC showed that there were no leashes on guys’ emotions.
You had sent out a tweet that basically said that it’s all Randy (Arozarena) now after his now iconic catch. There is no more Jones.
No more Jones!
I thought that was funny and interesting. Is it hard to not want to still point to yourself and say, “Hey, remember that catch?” Was it an adjustment to put yourself in the mindset of pushing these new players forward?
Hell no! It’s awesome being on this side. I remember in 2012, I was talking to Jim Thome and he’s 42 and I’m like, “Jim, go home. You want to go home?” And he’s like, “Baseball will tell you when to go home. Right now, it’s not telling me to go home.” After that season, he retired. But it’s like baseball will tell you when to go home. My body told me when it was done and I gave it my all. You know, you can’t play this forever and it’s the next man up. It’s the next man’s opportunity. That’s why I root on guys so much and still follow it because you pass the baton to the next generation and it’s no disrespect to it.
I can’t go out there and run. I was with Jazz Chisholm last night. He’s playing center field now. I can’t go run with him. Are you kidding me? And I don’t want to. That’s the thing. And I was fortunate enough to leave the game under my own merits. I had to finish in Japan to do it, but it was under my own merits and my own control. Most people don’t get that opportunity and they’re forced out of the game. But I was fortunate enough to still have the opportunity to be around it a lot with working with the commissioner’s office and I want to see these exciting moments.
I tweeted that out because my catch has been iconic. It’s going to be iconic still, but it’s been six years since we’ve seen a player with a country on the front (of the jersey) making iconic plays. That (Arozarena catch) was an iconic play. I’m not saying just throw me away. No. But this is his turn now. It’s Shohei’s turn now. You know what I mean? It’s just, pass the baton and it’s no slight to me, it’s no slight to nobody. But it’s his turn now. You don’t need to talk about Adam Jones in the Baseball Classic as much. You still mention me because my catch is sick. [laughs] But give Randy his flowers. Give (Anthony) Santander his flowers. Salvador Perez, give those guys their flowers. And now, we build for 2026.
When you went over to play in Japan, how did that open your world?
This would be a perfect question for my wife to answer because when we signed to go to Japan, we were excited but I was still like, “What? Why?” My agent and I got into spats. I’m like, “Dude, you don’t believe in me that I could do this?” But it wasn’t about that. We sat down (for some) long, long nights and just it was like, “Dude, we get to, first off, take control of our career.” Most players don’t get to do that. Did I want to finish in the major leagues? I thought I was that kind of player. You think what you want, but sometimes the cards play differently.
But I was able to go over there and the second we got over there, it was frustrating. It was hard. It was difficult because I’m in a new culture, then COVID hit. So, I’m like, “This sucks. I’m not with my family.” And then, my family was able to come over and it went from killing myself every day in the major leagues to make sure that I’m on the field and I’m producing, to enjoying the last couple of years of my career in a new culture and new country. We drove out to Kyoto, which was an hour from us and is one of the oldest cities in Japan. We just immersed ourselves in the culture and it was great for two years. We didn’t have to worry about American media. I could watch sports selectively if I wanted to. I could be selective in what information me and my family were to watch. We didn’t watch American TV. We were just out and exploring Japan for two years and it was absolutely amazing trying to just immerse ourselves in a culture.
We moved to Barcelona because of that. Because why not? The biggest thing, and I always say this, athletes, especially the ones that are fortunate enough to make a good enough living and be financially secure, a lot of them stay in their big houses, stay in their bubbles, golf, do local stuff, take their kids to school, into practice, and they end up coaching their kids. I get all that. They’re six and under taking them all over and eight and under taking them across the country. Take them across the world and travel.
My kids are nine and seven and they’re not missing sport. You know what I mean? They’re not missing (that). I got tons of friends, “Eight and under championships, he’s practicing three days a week.” My kids are missing none of that. My kids are seeing the world. My kids are speaking different languages. My kids are eating different cuisines and talking to different people. My kids have friends from all over the world. And going to Japan opened all those gates because the schools they were at, they got friends from China, friends from Uruguay, friends from Panama, friends from South Africa. That is what I like.
My wife’s a travel agent. This is their travel company, AXEUS Travel — it’s both our kids’ names combined. We want to see every part of the world. And if you follow me on social media, you know that we’re always somewhere else, eating somewhere, trying to see somewhere because culture is amazing. The world is amazing. It’s beautiful. And it sucks that most people don’t want to travel outside. They want to stay in their little bubble. I get that and I respect it, but that ain’t me.
I love the podcast.
How has that changed your perspective and what does your unique set of experiences bring to the media side of things with baseball?
Well, The Adam Jones Podcast, you can find that on all the streaming sites. I think it’s storytelling. Fans want to know the insights of it. Again, media has insight to a T. Ken Rosenthal, Jon Morosi, Adam Schefter, and Adrian Wojnarowski, all these guys, they got insight. They don’t have my insight. They don’t have the players’ insight. People want to know stories. They want to know the temperament.
And it’s cool because I’ve always respected the media. After the games, I’d rather get this interview over now and get the hell out of my clubhouse. If I’m 0-3, let’s get it over with now and get out, so you can go do your work too. Because I know that you got a deadline to make. I hated it when guys had the media sitting there for 30 minutes because you’re over there sulking because you gave up the run. Go talk, get it over with, and go sulk after it. Let them get out, let them do their job.
And now, on that side, it’s weird asking my peers questions, but it’s fun at the same time. It’s a challenge because it’s not easy. We think about journalism, “That’s easy, man. You ask a question, right?” Nah, you have to really… it’s time-consuming. It’s editing. The editing is the number one thing, but it’s a challenge. Again, it’s something that I admired guys doing and I was able to be in one place for a long time to where I had great stories and established a great rapport with a lot of guys, especially in the East Coast regions.
And now, on the other side of it, I can go up to these guys and they don’t look at me like, “He’s an asshole. I ain’t trying to talk to him.” It’s all mutual love and mutual respect. Because as a player, I had that for them and I want them to do it. We’ve all got to do our job. I struck out to end the game. It has to be talked about. I’m not going to sit in the training room and hide from the media. They ain’t going nowhere. Get it over, get it over with. And take your time, breathe. But get it out and it’s okay. It’s okay to show emotion but people don’t like that. I think the WBC showed that people love emotion.
You were such an outspoken player, strong on things that happened in your time in Baltimore. I’m curious about how much of a role you think players have in standing up and speaking out. Because I feel like sometimes in Major League Baseball, especially compared to other sports, you don’t see that quite as much on cultural issues.
I think it is just basketball, baseball, football … I mean, obviously, basketball and football have a higher number of African-Americans. They’re a majority, strong, like 80 percent majority of African-Americans and a lot of the top players are part of the union (and they’re) also African-American. So, it’s like, it’s just different. They’re different. Baseball is a different sport and a different demographic. I’ve always said that people are like, “You know, what about the Latin population?” I said, “Well the Latins, the Dominicans, Venezuela, they’ve got so many other issues going on in their other country. They don’t got time to worry about our issues.” So, America, when it comes to baseball, the issues are black and white. It’s because the Latins have their own issues in their country. They’re trying to get their own freedoms and liberty, getting their families. They got things they got to worry about. It’s just demographic.
What sucks is that a lot of baseball fans are still in that old-school mindset, old-school rules, old-school style in terms of how you play and how you dress. And look, Mickey Mantle ain’t playing no more. Okay, sorry, Don Mattingly ain’t playing no more. The generation has passed. These guys are walking around with $50,000 chains on. Okay, that’s people’s salaries. It’s a different era of baseball. And the American fan needs to understand that.
They (fans) would get so mad at the Latin players for showing flair. They’d get so mad at Manny (Machado) because he’d make a play and have just this face, just like, “Duh. I’m supposed to make the play.” And then he makes an error, which is super rare. And he’d have the same face and they’d be like, “Oh, did you see, look at him! He just does it in his sleep. He makes an error. He doesn’t give a damn. He doesn’t care.” Get away from that narrative. Get away from that.
American Baseball is, sorry, it’s international. It’s not America’s game anymore. I’m sorry. It was proven in the final game of the WBC. It was proven the entire time in the WBC by crowd participation. It’s not America’s game anymore. It’s the world’s game. And I know that a lot of political things going on in the United States right now. But baseball, it can bridge all that and shut a lot of people up.