Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nurse the Hate: The Jim Thome Question




This is Jim Thome's rookie card in 1994. Above that is Jim Thome in 1997.




Six hundred home runs is a magical number. Here’s who has hit 600 Home Runs legitimately. Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and allegedly Ken Griffey Jr. These are legendary players that literally set the standard in the game of baseball. Meanwhile, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez all passed 600 home runs while juiced up out of their minds. Those guys would all have put up big stats on their own, but when they passed landmark numbers, baseball purists all gathered to put the dark clouds of suspicion around them. This makes what is going on regarding Jim Thome even more curious to me.

Jim Thome is now four home runs short of 600. I have not heard one word about how this guy went from a kinda stocky OK third baseman to a giant plow horse of a man in 26 minutes. Thome hit 25 home runs on the 1995 Indians World Series team as a starting third baseman. That’s really good output from your third baseman. A couple years later, a much larger Thome hit 40 home runs. Not a little bigger. Much, much larger. It’s easy to explain really. From 18-26 he probably didn’t know that working out would help him as a professional athlete. He probably hit the weights for the first time when he turned 26 and threw 40 pounds of muscle on. Maybe he changed his diet up and ate more protein. In fact, I was thinking about doing the same thing this summer.

The really interesting thing is when Thome was 30 through 35, he had his biggest home run outputs in his career hitting around 50 home runs annually. Huh? How did that happen? It's not like in the past 80 years prior to steroids, guys got a lot better when they turned 30. Hell, I sure didn't. So Thome had a bad back, didn’t re-sign with the Indians and promptly hit 255 more home runs. Good diet, exercise, and lots of stretching I’ll bet! Maybe mix in a little yoga. That statistical trend of numbers jumping at age 30 is exactly like Barry Bonds at pretty much the same time. The difference? Barry Bonds is a giant A-hole that hit 70 home runs while Thome "quietly" hit 50. Everyone hated Bonds too. If you made a poll of disliked people, I bet Bonds finishes ahead of people like Stalin, The OctoMom, Paris Hilton, and probably even that poor little innocent Casey Anthony girl that clearly didn’t have anything to do with her kid’s death.

Thome is almost universally regarded as a really great guy. Everybody loves him, especially the media. He’s polite, makes himself available for interviews, and has that “aw-shucks” Midwestern Roy Hobbs thing that baseball writers love. "Oh, that Jim Thome is good for the game of baseball!" He does always say the right thing, doesn't he? You can't find anyone bringing up the fact that Thome must have been taking Gorilla Adrenalin, Mexican Power Juice, HGH, and every kind of cream/clear/ointment available. I would think he's still got some magic powder working. Still, isn’t there one baseball writer out there willing to look into it? Shit, they tore Mark McGwire down and everyone loved watching him launch 500 foot bombs too.

When Thome gets to 600 and ESPN makes those "gosh darn ain't he a good ole boy" montages, remember these two pictures. If you rip down Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmero, etc, you better get after Thome too. He ain't no Roy Hobbs.

11 Comments:

At July 21, 2011 at 4:53:00 PM EDT , Blogger Josh said...

I agree the steroids * era in baseball has cast a dark shadow over the game and the stats. It is great that someone is willing to say something about the "nice guy" and not just focus all of their energy on that asshole Bonds. Nice guys cheat to, and I guess it just goes back to what the Clash said, "cheat if you can't win". So now are we just left with leaving * in the record books until we start testing for the next performance enhancing substance these guys are taking that we have never heard of. Or better yet do we look at the rookie photo of a bean poll and wonder how they bulked up over the interceding years. Good questions, glad your asking, now just get a spot commentating on ESPN and tell the truth to the world.

 
At July 22, 2011 at 10:49:00 AM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

I think my language may be a bit too salty for ESPN.

 
At July 31, 2011 at 11:44:00 PM EDT , Blogger jon said...

i'm sorry but Thome wasn't a rookie in 1994. it was 1991. and that baseball card was published in 1991 and the photo probably taken in 1990.

 
At August 4, 2011 at 4:50:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

Oh, well that makes sense then. I remember when I put on 45 pounds of muscle when I turned 26 too.

 
At August 17, 2011 at 12:12:00 AM EDT , Blogger awbradley said...

you're forgetting one thing...thome hit 600 home runs while also being white. when griffey reached the mark, sure, they went out of their way to say he was never "linked to PEDs" (not the same as saying he didn't use them) and what a fun-loving guy he was who kept everyone loose with his pranks, but you didn't hear the kinds of burnished paeans to his honor and integrity and just all-around apple-pie humble heroism (what are quiet home runs? i think they're the ones that never matter) as your hearing with thome, the only white guy to join the 600 club since babe.

 
At August 17, 2011 at 4:38:00 AM EDT , Blogger Movie Fan said...

I agree that Thome almost certain took steroids at some point during his career. I don't understand why people say he was definitely clean. The only big slugger who I think was almost certainly clean was Frank Thomas who was always huge even as a rookie and was also the only player to voluntarily be interviewed for the Mitchell Report on steroids in baseball.

 
At August 17, 2011 at 4:39:00 AM EDT , Blogger Movie Fan said...

Awbradley must be a racist to even suggest that Thome is getting easier treatment because of his skin color. I seem to recall that everyone loved Ken Griffey Jr. years ago and he is black.

 
At August 18, 2011 at 9:32:00 AM EDT , Blogger Belkiolle said...

You don't think it's possible to put on 40 pounds of muscle cleanly in 8 years? When you're talking about an 18 year old kid growing into a 26 year old man it's certainly possible through good diet and a good exercise regimen which he would have gotten as a professional baseball player and very likely didn't as a high school kid. Men don't finish maturing until they are 24 or 25 generally.

 
At August 18, 2011 at 10:59:00 AM EDT , Blogger Brandon Magner said...

That rookie card was from 1991. Excellent research you did for this!

 
At August 23, 2011 at 10:04:00 PM EDT , Blogger Greg Miller said...

I'm on board with AwBradley. If Thome was black or hispanic there would be different treatment by the media. To suggest white players don't get different treatment is naive. You ever notice how guys like Craig Biggio and Dustin Pedroia are always "scrappy"? Why isn't Rickie Weeks scrappy? Because Rickie Weeks and other black players are "athletic". Seriously, has there ever been a black player called "scrappy"? According to the lions share of the media, the black player succeeds due to genetic gifts, while the white player succeeds through hard work and determination.

 
At April 16, 2017 at 5:32:00 PM EDT , Blogger Fred Rain Delay said...

Thanks, now I know I'm not the only one to be annoyed to see Thome hit his 600th during breaks on MLB tv. Never understood why nobody ever cast the slightest suspicion on this guy. Watch him be elected to the HOF on the 1st ballot too.

Also, Hispanic players are never "scrappy" or "gritty". They're always too exuberant, annoying, "hot dogs", they don't "play the game the right way". That is racist and it annoys the hell out of me.

 

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