Photo of Jim Thome of the Chicago White Sox.

Image Credit: Kimberly N. (CC BY-ND 2.0)

We all know there is plenty of bias in Major League Baseball. Last night, Jim Thome became just the eighth player in MLB history to hit 600 career home runs. Thome is an aging player and is long removed from the days when he and Manny Ramirez were a home run hitting tandem for the Cleveland Indians.

During the late 90's and early 2000's, Thome was as household name among Major League Baseball fans. Today, he claims to not even bring a glove to the ballpark since he's used strictly as the Designated Hitter for the Minnesota Twins. Earlier this season, New York Yankees great Derek Jeter also joined elite company in hitting his 3,000th hit. What coverage he got! It seemed like from hit number 2,990 on everyone in America knew what city the Yankees were in that night, what order he was batting in as well as who the opposing pitcher would be. ESPN was following Jeter's every move since his rehab start with the Trenton Thunder. A-Rod also got similar love from the media when he hit his 600th home run last season.

Going into last night, were most fans aware that Thome was sitting at 599 home runs? I'll admit, I wasn't, while I was aware that he was extremely close to 600 a few weeks ago. Then again, I'm glued to the television every night when the Cincinnati Reds are playing; my attention to the rest of the MLB is very limited. However, I do watch ESPN and do not recall coverage of Thome's progress toward this impressive milestone.

Bill Plaschke of the LA Times wrote an excellent article on Jim Thome today examining his stint with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2009. Plaschke pointed out that Thome's kindness off of the field really overshadowed his on-field achievements. Are we as sports fans attracted to the villains? How many home run kings have been linked to steroids and other scandals and as a result, received so much more press and attention? Never flashy, always modest, strong and kind; that was Jim Thome. 

 

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