Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Muted Celebration of Jim Thome

Jim Thome has 600 homers.
Great. Good for him. He seems like a nice guy and has had a terrific career.

Is he a Hall of Famer? I guess. I won’t have a problem if he is elected.

Is the 600th home run one of the great moments in baseball history?

Frankly I don’t even think it was the highlight of the night (Milwaukee’s bizarre triple play on the Dodgers had that honor with me.)

So why isn’t Thome’s home run a bigger event?
Thome seems like a good guy. You never hear a bad word said about him. He’s friendly, charming and humble in interviews.

And he has never been tied to any scandals. His numbers peaked in his late 20s and early 30s and then came down and didn’t suddenly spike again.

Why isn’t he getting the love? Bert Blyleven joked during the Twins game last night that Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit celebration was so over the top that you’d think he was the first to ever do it.

No it isn’t fair that Thome didn’t get all the attention. But that doesn’t mean that it was wrong.

Jim Thome hit 600 homers in the wrong era. Sorry. That’s just the truth.
And the long term result of The Steroid Era is that the people who played in the post strike flurry of elite home run hitters are going to be scrutinized heavily.

No it isn’t fair that McGwire and Sosa got to be showered with accolades while Thome gets a nice golf clap.

But that is the price of people saying “We were burned but now we have our guard up.”

You don’t like that journalists go after politicians with brute force? Blame Watergate.

Thome is like the nice guy trying to date the pretty girl who is always burned. And when Thome does one or two things the old boyfriends used to do, HE’LL catch the blame. It’s not fair. And he’ll say “You are making me feel badly because of what Jason did!”

(FYI, every single woman in the world has dated an a—hole named Jason or Mark.)

But we have been burned. And 600 home runs, or at least the celebration for it, has been diluted.

There have been only 8 players to hit 600 homers… and 5 of them have been in the past 10 years. Think about that… from 1931, when Babe Ruth hit his 600th home run to 2002 when Bonds got HIS 600th homer, a grand total of 3 hitters reached the milestone.

3 in 70 years.
And 5 more in 9 years.

It isn’t as special.

There was a seven decade window where 600 was a jaw droppingly impressive number. But with Bonds, A-Rod and Sosa crowding it up, it no longer seems to mean as much.

Thome and Griffey are on the list and there is no reason to think they did anything. I personally don’t think they did.

But be honest… would you be STUNNED if they did? How can anyone be shocked by any name anymore?

So good job Mr. Thome. I’m a fan. If you get into the Hall of Fame, you will no doubt be a classy member.

Sorry you didn’t get the big celebration. Chances are the guys caught juicing WON’T be in Cooperstown. You might get the last laugh.

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  1. Anonymous8:55 AM

    Nice you think Thome and Griffey didnt do anything, we have something called innoncent until proven guilty in the USA, look it the hell up. Bonds hasent been once been proved that he did shit, get that straight wide load

  2. I may believe that Thome juiced, as much as I would hate to, but I would have a hard time believing Griffey did. The extent Griffey was injured and took forever coming back attests to the fact (I hope) that he was not on the juice.

  3. "something called innoncent until proven guilty"

    This is not a court of law.
    This is a blog.

    The burden of proof is on the prosecution to prove something is true. But you can still suspect something and still have an opinion on events without proving it in a court of law.

    I have written about Bonds here and yes, he has never been proven in a court of law that he used anything. And the burden of proof SHOULD be higher.

    I can still suspect it.
    The fact that his body expanded after visiting a steroid lab and the one person who could confirm his steroid lab is sitting in a jail instead of testifying raises a red flag or 2.

    Not enough to convict him in a court of law because guilt, not innocence, as you correctly pointed out, needs to be proven.

    I can still have my doubts.

    As for Thome, Griffey and Thomas (all three I have no reason to suspect did anything except for the general feeling that the whole era featured players using stuff including those I DIDN'T suspect like A-Rod) they were just victims of being in the wrong place at the wrong time in terms of celebration DURING their career.

    They should have the last laugh in Cooperstown.

    I appreciate that once again, my Anonymous readers always write the most thoughtful and well constructed posts.

  4. Kevin,

    The best argument for not thinking Griffey did something was exactly that. People keep saying 'roids are great for recovery. Well then could you imagine the numbers Griffey would have compiled had he stayed healthy.

    Also when you look at his career, it had the parabola that most careers tended to have.

    I think he was clean.

    For the record, I think Thome was as well... but the era he played in will always make people a smidge suspicious

  5. Anonymous3:21 PM

    nice to know you think some guys did it and some guys didn't, did you have special insights working the Giants clubhouse or did you watch all of bonds games in a ten year period? hmmm?

  6. I assume this is the same Anonymous poster.

    While I did indeed watch many Giants games during Bonds time in San Francisco, no I did not have any additional insight to the Giants clubhouse.
    Ergo, as you would no doubt agree, I would make a terrible witness in a court case against Barry Bonds.

    And if you had read this blog before, you would have seen that I felt the state's case against Bonds was flimsy at best and laughable at worst.
    Proving someone is guilty is a lot different than thinking they may not be innocent.

    The total transformation of his body as well as the elevation of his stats coinciding with his association with a steroid lab and the person who is said to have supplied him sitting in a prison instead of incriminating Bonds makes me think "Hmmm... I bet something was going on there."

    You DO know that in order to speculate or have an opinion is not the same as proving something in a court of law, don't you?

    And if you do, what exactly is your point?