Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thome Hits 600!

I'll be the first to admit I've done a really terrible job of contributing to this blog. There hasn't been a whole lot of posting around here lately on my part; it's been a crazy summer (as it is for many people) but as Adam has mentioned here previously, we're expecting our first child in January, so I'm in the process of figuring out what it's going to mean to be a future dad (to a future Twins fan, obviously) while taking the best care I can of my beautiful wife. Add to that the fact that the Twins season is essentially over for all intensive purposes and the motivation for blogging falls lower on the priority list.

But tonight, there's a big reason for Twins Territory to rejoice, and that reason is Jim Thome. The night was momentarily derailed by Delmon Young hitting a home run for the Tigers in his first Comerica at-bat (seriously?) but it soon got back on track with three runs in the third followed by Mr. Thome giving the Twins the lead for good with home run number 599 in the sixth. The Tigers added two more in the bottom of that inning, but Thome put the game out of reach in the seventh with a blast to the opposite field that brought him into an elite baseball fraternity.

Like the man whose number 3 adorns the sleeves of Twins jerseys for the rest of this season, Thome has always been regarding as one of the nicest guys in baseball off the field. And I don't think there could have been any doubt before, but he most definitely punched his ticket to Cooperstown tonight. Unlike other members of the 600 home run club, there's never really been a question with him of improper aids to his prodigious power. I'm not going to touch the steroids debate with a ten-foot pole here, and if I'm totally honest I'm probably more in line with the view that it's going to be very hard to keep the so-called "juicers" out, but I can't imagine there's a single baseball writer in this country that's going to keep Thome out on his first ballot.

It's unfortunate that he couldn't have reached the milestone at Target Field, but kudos to the Detroit fans for showing Big Jim the recognition he deserves. Before he joined the Twins, I'll admit that my blind hatred of anything related to the White Sox may have prejudiced me against Thome. I didn't really care about his nice-guy reputation, I only cared that he played his home games at US Cellular Field (which is, frankly, a pretty awful place to watch a game as a Twins fan, but I digress). In my younger years, had Thome done that in a White Sox jersey against the Twins in Minnesota, especially to extend a lead in the late innings, every fiber of my being probably would have fought a standing ovation. But Detroit fans were mostly gracious to their credit, including the kid waving a "Thome is my Homie" sign behind the dugout. I'd like to think that I've come far enough in my older age that I'm willing to recognize the game's historical accomplishments wherever and to whomever they occur (although cheering A-Rod would certainly test that assumption).

In the midst of this, there's plenty of other things to be worried about as a Twins fan. Did they just sell low on a once-promising talent that never really seemed to pan out in Minnesota but might benefit from a change of scenery? Do they have enough payroll flexibility to afford the bullpen and middle-infield help they so desperately need? Will the injuries that have and seem to continue to plague this team become a recurring theme that haunts us for seasons to come? Are the Twins stuck in the dreaded Twilight Zone of not being good enough to really justify taking big steps to bolster the roster but not being bad enough to gut the team and start over? I think these are all probably valid questions, and we'll do our best to address them in the coming days and months. But for tonight, all that really matters to me is that one of the game's great ambassadors has taken his place alongside Ruth, Mays, Aaron, and yes, Bonds. Congratulations Jim Thome, and if this is your last season in a Twins (or any) uniform, it's certainly been a memorable one.

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