Jim Thome Reaches 600 Homers

August 16, 2011

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A major milestone occurred yesterday in Major League Baseball.

Six Hundred Home Runs were hit by Jim Thome of the Minnesota Twins. He became just the 8th player to reach this significant milestone, although most now on this list have done it very recently. Even with that said, the list of folks in front of him as members of the 600 club is quite impressive.

Aaron, Ruth, Mays, A-Rod, Sosa, Bonds, and Griffey.

A couple off of this list are considered the best to ever play the game regardless of what era you are talking about in the history of baseball – Yet others have the tainted cloud of steroid use hanging over them.

I think it is safe to say that NEVER has a player who has hit 600 homers done so with so little fanfare or media attention. Thome played the most years in Cleveland, where he played 12 seasons. Since then he has had brief stops in Philadelphia, Chicago with the White Sox, Los Angeles with the Dodgers and now in Minnesota.

Thome has been consistent only hitting over 50 homers one time (he hit 52 blasts in 2002) , but having many years in the mid 30 to mid-40 home run totals. When you do this for a span of 20 years, do the math….you basically get to 600.

Most power hitters by their nature have a short shelf life in the majors. Swings get slower with age, younger players are always showing up to push you out. Many times the media attention that comes with being a slugger in the bigs is the same media coverage that starts to throw a player under the bus when they get into the twilight of their careers – and the production numbers start to wane.

After all, chicks dig the long ball…..

But Thome has seemingly escaped much of this. A popular player – but not necessarily a household name outside of the venues he has played in. He appears to be fairly quiet and un-assuming. Most casual observers would have no idea that he is a career .277 hitter (better than most big time power sluggers to be certain)

A lot of debate will happen over the upcoming weeks as to his all-time status in the game. Before the McGwire, Palmeiro and Sosa debacle of Performance Enhancing drugs, 500 Home Runs Pretty much got you into the Hall of Fame. 600 dingers I would think would make you a lock, yet questions abound on a variety of on-line sports sites as to if Thome deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Since I am not a member of the Baseball Writers Association of American no one really cares about my vote. With that said, I will take the quiet 600 Home Run guy who seems to be a throwback type of player any day of the week.

Congratulations Jim Thome

Until Next time,

Stay Classy Peoria, Illinois

The Carlos Zambrano Meltdown

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Once again, Carlos Zambrano is persona non grata in the Cubs clubhouse.  He was suspended for 30 days without pay following his most recent blowup.  After giving up five home runs against the Atlanta Braves, he began using Atlanta icon Chipper Jones as target practice before getting ejected from the game.  Mind you, Jones wasn’t even one of the guys who hit a homer.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry took the somewhat unusual step of apologizing to Jones (via Braves GM Frank Wren) for the incident.

This isn’t the first blowup for Zambrano.  He has a long history of failing to control his temper.  The problem with baseball’s guaranteed contracts is that it’s very difficult for a team to part ways with a problem player.  If the Cubs were to release Zambrano, they’d still be on the hook for his contract of $18 million+ next year.

Zambrano’s statistics put him in the “potential hall of famer” category.  If he pitches until he is 40, he could surpass 250 career wins and even make a run at 300.  However, he needs to stay focused and remain on the field for this to happen.  I sincerely hope Zambrano can put his anger issues behind him.  He’s making $18 million per year – hire a personal psychiatrist to travel with him during the season.

Sad day for the Huskers

Last night was the deadline to sign baseball draftees.  The future of Nebraska football took a hit when multi-sport star Bubba Starling signed with the Kansas City Royals, dashing the dreams of Husker fans who envisioned him behind center for the Nebraska football team.  Starling, the 5th overall pick in the draft, used his status as a football player as leverage in negotiations and was able to secure a $7.5 million signing bonus.  I have suggested the nickname of “Clarice” for the newest member of the Royal family.

The Pirates signed top overall pick Gerrit Cole to an $8 million bonus.  Interestingly, Cole was drafted in the first round by the Yankees in 2008, but failed to come to terms with the team and elected to go to college instead.  Imagine that – the Yankees losing a player to the Pirates because they wouldn’t pay the money.

Thome Hits #600

Jim Thome of the Twins reached the 600 home run plateau last night.  There wasn’t much publicity leading up to the event, other than a handful of articles pointing out that there wasn’t much publicity leading up to the event.  Thome is generally regarded as one on the nicest guys in baseball, and this might be working against him.  You never read news stories about him criticizing teammates or getting into a fight at a strip club.  He just goes to work and does his job every day.  Congratulations to the most low-key future Hall of Famer you’re likely to encounter.

49ers Add Seasoning With ‘Pepper?

The 49ers worked out quarterback Duante Culpepper on Monday, with an eye toward possibly adding him to the roster.  I was a fan of Culpepper when he was leading the high octane Vikings offense, and I still like the guy.  I think it would be smart for the 49ers to add Culpepper to their group of quarterbacks.  It’s a low risk, high reward situations.  Hoping for a triumphant return for Duante!