I’ve Finally Forgiven Jim Thome

As Jim Thome is on the precipice of hitting 600 home runs I have finally come to the realization that I am not angry with him anymore.  I know I am one of the later holdouts amongst Tribe fans.  I am also well aware that nobody was really waiting with baited breath for me to come to this conclusion.  It just occurred to me for all the negativity I had regarding Jim Thome and him leaving Cleveland for Philly following the 2002 season, I am no longer feeling angry.

Yes, we’ll always have the infamous quote, “my wife is my rock…”  We can always make the argument that Jim Thome chased the last dollar.  Many will argue that the Indians offered just enough money to make it look good and guarantee that Thome would leave while still allowing the Indians to defend themselves.  We might never know if that was truly the case or not.  What we do know is that Thome left for a prospectively better situation for more money.

But none of that really seems all that important to me almost nine years later.  I was still holding out that we should boo Jim Thome when he continued his career after leaving Philly. Who could blame me as Thome suited up for the rival White Sox and Twins?  As time wore on though, I just didn’t care to bother booing him anymore.  Maybe it has something to do with him not playing every day now.

When you consider all that has gone on in the game of baseball over the last decade, it makes a bit more sense.  Manny Ramirez has come and gone as a disgrace to his legacy amidst suspensions for illegal substances.  An infamous list has taken down guys from Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez to Rafael Palmeiro and Jason Giambi.  Maybe Thome somehow skated by and got lucky with all the lists, witch hunts and subsequent testing.  Anything is possible in a world where Matt Lawton is guilty of bulking up illegally using veterinary drugs.

As the days pass though, and as the balls keep flying out of the yard it becomes harder and harder to not respect Jim Thome’s career even if the Cleveland portion ended in 2002.

When he was in Cleveland, Jim Thome played 1377 games, scored 917 runs, 1332 hits, 334 home runs, 927 RBI while hitting 0.287 with a 0.414 OBP.  He also slugged 0.567 and had an astonishing 20 triples.  I can’t even picture Jim Thome sliding into third once let alone 20 times, can you?

I know I am more hard-headed than most.  I know a lot of you have been to this point with Jim Thome for quite some time.  Just letting you know that I am finally there too.  I hope Jim Thome doesn’t hit his 600th homer against the Tribe, but I will be looking forward to seeing the highlight come across my TV screen.

Before any of you even get started, I don’t think I will be writing this same article a decade from now about… well…  you know…  anyone else.  Compared to that level of vitriol, my anger with Jim Thome was only about a 6-7 on a ten point scale.  Manny Ramirez was probably an 8.  I will never say never, but there would have to be a lot of different things moving in many different directions for me to even consider softening my stance on some people.

  • Harv 21

    What’s to forgive? Shapiro claimed not to want to give him an additional year because of his back. Thome said his back was fine.His back did eventually go out while playing a position in the nl We found Hafner to replace him.

    I never blamed him. Players in their prime will get their money. He’s a good guy, wish we had a whole team of Thomes.

  • oribiasi

    I guess I am more hard-headed than you, Craig. I still don’t forgive him; he stated he would never play for anyone but Cleveland…and then broke that statement numerous times. It doesn’t matter to me why he did it, it just matters that he did it.

    I don’t much like Kenny Roda from 850/KNR, but this article does tell it like it is, more or less: http://espncleveland.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/great-cleveland-sports-awards-brings-back-great-indians-memories/

    Thome is an avid hunter, and he used to buy all of his stuff at this shop off of Route 2 in Eastlake, Ohio. I went there once to buy something (after Thome left) and the owner there hunts with Thome. I asked him if Jim was sad about leaving, and he said “Absolutely not.” That sealed the deal for me; it was a cold business decision, nothing else.

    He went to follow the money, and that’s fine; but don’t come out and say you’re all about loyalty when you’re not.

  • Swig

    I am going down with the ship.

    His leaving was the beginning of my realization of how messed up baseball’s salary situation is. I hoped it was an aberration, by it was a trend. I have not been angry for a long time because I have not cared for a long time. Because of this, I will not forget, and thus will likely never “forgive”.

    /However, my forgetting is asymptotic to zero so my opinion is a moot point

  • Swig

    He went to follow the money, and that’s fine; but don’t come out and say you’re all about loyalty when you’re not.

    Exactly.

    Additionally, this was my “there is no Santa Claus” moment for my childhood idealization of sports.

  • http://www.morningjournal.com/content/articles/2011/01/31/sports/doc4d463b0cd062d819200129.jpg Return of the (Alex) Mack

    Both Hafner and Colt McCoy are scheduled to be interviewed on the gym rome show today. Just a fun fact fyi for everyone today

  • http://www.morningjournal.com/content/articles/2011/01/31/sports/doc4d463b0cd062d819200129.jpg Return of the (Alex) Mack

    haha Jim Rome show. as opposed to Gym Rome show, which may be another show entirely

  • architrance

    C’mon Craig, you don’t think you’ll be able to forgive ole Joey Belle after another decade?

  • GhostToMost

    I never completely understood the animosity towards Thome. Yeah he did say multiple times that he wanted to stay in Cleveland forever, but in the end, can you really blame him for taking off? The Indians were headed into a rebuilding phase, the Phillies were contending and offering more money. He would have been a fool not to take that deal.

    Cleveland fans even got over Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle after awhile. After a few years had gone by, they didnt even boo Manny anymore. As recently as last season they were still booing Thome.

    I also think that people kind of expected Belle and Ramirez to leave. But much like LeBron James, they just assumed Thome would stick around because he was “one of us” or whatever. Unlike Belle and Ramirez, I do believe that he truly enjoyed playing here and wanted to stay, but like I said the situation dictated that he go somewhere else. You cant blame him.

    The only other thing I can think of, the Indians tried to trade him in the summer of 2002. I could be mistaken, but I believe that Thome had a no trade clause and told them he would veto any deal. Then of course, he left via free agency anyway. He had the right to do so, but he did leave the organization holding their you know what. Wasnt the best PR move on his part.

    For that reason, I can understand some of the angst towards him. But you figured after 8 years people would be over it. It will be interesting to see how people react to him when he comes back to Cleveland this year, especially if he has reached the 600 homer plateau by then.

  • Ben

    Maybe this is just me but after what Lebron pulled on national TV…they are all forgiven. Thome. Belle. No need to forgive Ramirez he has no idea what happened. The way that baseball is set up forced this…it also makes it much easier knowing that Thome and Belle never won anything.

  • 5KMD

    “Cleveland fans even got over Manny Ramirez and Albert Belle after awhile. After a few years had gone by, they didnt even boo Manny anymore. As recently as last season they were still booing Thome”

    Manny and Belle never said they would play with the Tribe forever. In fact, those two made it very clear they were going to chase the last dollar. Thome wanted to have his cake and eat it too. He wanted to be cherished as a hometown hero but then get paid like a mercenary. Can’t have it both ways, and that’s why he is booed.

    Wife is my rock, rip this jersey off my back, blah, blah, blah. Just keep your mouth shut and get paid when it’s time.

  • Chucky Brown

    I may have subscribed to the “manny didnt know shats going on” theory as well because
    he left and went to possibly my least favorite franchise in all of sports and I never once was mad at him

  • Garry Owen

    Know who I’m having a hard time forgiving? Bin Laden. And he’s dead. After him, a ball player (regardless of the size or color of the ball) is easy to forgive.

    Here’s your parade. Here’s me raining on it with a storm of perspective. Sorry about that.

  • oribiasi

    @ 5KMD – Amen, brother.

    Side note: personal pet peeve is when anyone says “have your cake and eat it too.” The more logical/correct way to say it would be to eat your cake and have it, too. In that way, you would be using “X” and then still have “X” afterwards, which would be advantageous.

    The opposite (and the most commonly used) way of saying it would just be an implied truth: you would have something and then use it. I would have my cake and eat it too! Well, great…but how is that unique/great?

    Just something that grinds my gears a little, that’s all.

  • forrealmccoy

    What if he goes into the hall of fame as an Indian then what? Are people still gonna boo him then?

  • tsm

    @5kmd….also an amen brother! It’s the dishonesty and deception that has earned our enmity. @Garry Owen, since this is a sports site, that is the perspective from which we view these transgressions.
    On a side note, when is basebal going to fix the small market problem? We lost Albert, Manny, Jim, CC & Cliff simply because we couldn’t compete financially. We need a more level playing field, and I place the blame on the small market owners who don’t band together.

  • CLEFAN4LIFE

    Forgiveness is only necessary when someone has personally hurt me. That being said, I haven’t forgotten Thome’s allegiance speeches to Cleveland, only to walk for more money. He’s on my list of disliked players for that reason.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Denny

    Jimmers sure was wiry.

  • GhostToMost

    @17

    Yeah, build wise Thome went from Lonnie Chisenhall to Travis Hafner during his time in Cleveland. I guess he was really into…umm…lifting weights. Yeah thats it :D

  • http://www.morningjournal.com/content/articles/2011/01/31/sports/doc4d463b0cd062d819200129.jpg Return of the (Alex) Mack

    @ 18

    yea I could see that Thome (the one pictured) hitting triples.

  • 5KMD

    oribiasi:

    I could care less what you think. Just kidding but that phrase is my pet peeve as it should be “I could not care less what you think”.

    Reading my post again, I should not have used that phrase because it was embarrassingly hokey. However, i think it is OK the way it is.

    I want to have my cake. I also want to eat my cake. At the same time. Can’t be done. I’ll have to think about it a bit more, but right now I’ll politely disagree with you.

  • 5KMD

    OK, here you go. Although this is from wikipedia:

    “Paul Brians, Professor of English at Washington State University, points out that perhaps a more logical or easier to understand version of this saying is, “You can’t eat your cake and have it too.”

  • mgbode

    @Harv – you summed it up well. I too forgave Thome when his back went out in Philly and Hafner started rocking bombs for us.

  • oribiasi

    @ 5KMD – Right, that’s what I said. It would be better to eat the cake and then still have it. Replace cake with money; it would be better to spend money but never lose it. That would be terrific.

  • CLESportsFan

    I must say… my “I Forgive You Thome” moment came when I read the article about Jim Thome that was on the cover of Sports Illustrated last year. He talked about losing his mom and it really resonated with what I went through losing my dad.

    I guess for the first time since his departure, it humanized him again and when you go through losing a loved one, you realize how insignificant some things in life are, including “hating” someone you really don’t even know.

    We shouldn’t waste our limited time on earth being angry about things like that which we have no control over. You can be mad, but get over it and move on.

  • 5KMD

    I feel like we should be discusing this over a couple of beers.

    My contention is that my statement was this:

    “Thome wanted to have his cake and eat it to.” The way I am reading it is that you wanted to do 2 things at that same time that is not physically possible. I don’t get why the order of those two things matter that much.

    But I get what you are saying as well. He could have his cake and then eat it. But not eat it and then still have it. I think we are interpreting the statement in different ways.

    Nice afternoon discussion. Thanks.

  • oribiasi

    @ 5KMD – I am always up for a Miller High-Life.

    To state that one wants to “have their cake and eat it too” is to no one’s benefit. You would necessarily need to “have” cake to then “eat” it. Nothing special about that.

    Now, to “eat” one’s cake but then still “have” it, well that would be terrific, right? So, the spirit of the statement is to use something but then to still have it. Right?!

  • mgbode

    @5K – wait, noone else is drinking?

  • 5KMD

    Well the spirit of my original comment would be Thome being a hometown hero and also being a money grubbing mercenary at the same time. It doesn’t matter which one he was first, he can’t have it both ways.

    There you go, that’s the phrase I should have used. “Thome can’t have it both ways.” Simple, effective.

    Now back to my Sam Adams Summer Ale as we discuss when to use and (more importantly) not to use the word irony.

  • saggy

    i guess i am just simple-minded in all of these things: the guy doesn’t play for Cleveland therefore I don’t like him. I do appreciate all he did for me as a fan, but i no longer really care. end of story.

  • Believelander

    Jimmy didn’t do everything right in 2002 in terms of dealing with the impending free agency situation, but to be honest, the Indians’ management was cutting bait at a rapid pace. I firmly believe that the Tribe -never- would have paid Thome close to what he was worth.

    Why do I believe this? After we cut bait with Omar Vizquel, who, at the age of 37, took at 50% paycut to transplant to the San Fransisco Giants. Granted we replaced him with Jhonny Peralta, who had one of a total of 2 good MLB seasons in 2005, his other being this year for the Ligers. Still, the Dolans were dropping salary as fast as possible, and I don’t blame them. But the realistic chances of them inking a contract with Thome for anything in the ballpark of his market value were 0%.

  • jpieh812

    Thome was my favorite Indian, and I was pissed when he left. I am going to the game on my birthday and Thome and the Twins will be in town. I have a dream of the Indians being up 10-0 in the top of the 9th and Thome hits #600 into the right field stands. I will stand up and cheer him for that accomplishment, and I do hope he makes it into Cooperstown, because he will be wearing an Indians cap on his plaque.

  • Kevin

    I dont boo Thome or anything, but I still hate him and always will. Why? Because hes a lying greedy (edit)hole.

  • 5KMD

    Go back and look it up. The Tribe offerred Thome a fair deal and he immediately took it to Philly and asked for more money and years. Then he came back to the Tribe and postured that he was getting screwed. I swear that if the Tribe matched Philly, big Jim would have gone back andd gotten another year from them.

    That’s the real problem with big vs. small market (same with CC and the yanks). The small clubs can make reasonable offers. But if the big boys want their man, they can afford to make unreasonable offers that the small guys can’t (and would be dumb to try) match.

  • Dave

    I don’t blame Thome, I blame the Union. Thome was the top free agent that year and whatever amount of money he took every other free agent would be scaled off of that deal. Thus the union makes him take the most. This happens every year but definitely screwed the Cleve with Thome.

  • 5KMD

    Dave, Cliff Lee took less money this year to play for the Phillies, he could have gotten a lot more from the yankees or rangers.

    It can be done. It should have been done, especially after thome said the things he did about never leaving Cleveland.

  • oribiasi

    @ 5KMD — Which is why I always bring up the Mauer situation. Granted, it hasn’t worked out well yet, but he is too good a ball player for that not to.