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.