Thursday, August 18, 2011

Congratulations to Jim Thome

One "club" has 28 members. The other has eight. Which one is more elite?
By exclusivity alone, Minnesota Twins' designated hitter Jim Thome's 600th home run was a far bigger deal than Derek Jeter's 3,000th career hit. Yet we heard about Jeter's milestone for months leading up to it, and Thome's 600 homers were only acknowledged after the fact.
For a star as humble as Jim Thome, the lack of a lead-up was fitting.
In an article I enjoyed thoroughly, Joe Posnanski argued that Thome hit his home runs in the wrong era, that they would have been more celebrated had he hit them a few decades ago. There's some truth to that. But I remember thoroughly the hype in the lead-up Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez's 600th home run, which he finally achieved on August 4, 2010. Baseball may have changed this past year, but I doubt it's changed that much.
Really, Thome's home runs weren't more hyped because he plays for Minnesota, my favorite team but not one that earns the same media recognition as a team like the Yankees.
Now, some might say that the heightened focus on Jeter's hitting is based out of human interest. He's the captain, a leader who has given New York five rings, some might argue. Personally, I think Jeter seems like a good enough guy, but if he were really a selfless team leader, he'd be the one playing third base right now.
Thome, meanwhile, is known only for power on the field and his humility off it, as Jayson Stark writes.
In wrapping up his article, Posnanski reflects on the oddity that Thome's place in the Hall of Fame is even a question, while quoting a conversation with Thome who says he'd like to be remembered as a good guy.
Fine with me.
Just as long as he's remembered.

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