Jim Thome's fate remains in question as he powers Twins to victory
Jim Thome cranked yet another home run last night, as the Minnesota Twins took two of three from the first place Detroit Tigers in an exciting, 6-5 win, decided in the last inning.
With the bases loaded in the ninth, Justin Morneau smacked a solid single off normally reliable closer Jose Valverde, scoring a pair, just enough to take the rubber game. It appears that the Twins are ready to embrace their newest role, usually reserved for the lowly Kansas City Royals: late season spoilers.
The Yankees are in town for four straight games, which puts the spoiler mode on hold for a few days. Not that we couldn't win all four (though probably we cannot), but the Yankees and Red Sox are both virtually assured postseason berths. And really, winning or losing the AL East title isn't something you can "spoil", when you're in as the Wild Card anyway, right?
So what remains of this woebegone season? As I said, the urge to spoil, wreck, ruin, and throw monkey wrenches into the already cracked engine blocks of the AL Central teams in contention. Spoiling can be wicked fun--as I said, ask Kansas City fans how much pleasure they had in kicking the Tigers' collective behinds at the end of 2006, dropping them from first place and the Division title. (Though the Tigers ended up with the pennant anyway, but still...)
Between now and the end of the season, the Twins play Detroit six times, the White Sox seven, Indians six, and get to wreak havoc on the Angels three times, as the other team from the Los Angeles area attempts to unseat the reigning pennant winners.
How's that for motivation? Pretty good, I'd say.
However, I also say that this can still be accomplished by trading Jim Thome. The Star-Tribune's "Section 219" blogger (and the best baseball writer on the staff) Howard Sinker pondered trading Thome, and decided he didn't like it--he wanted to see big Jim remain a Twin, and try to ascend Sammy Sosa's 609 home run plateau.
I wrote that I thought that seemed a bit, well, dumb and dull, and why not trade Thome to a contender that might satisfy his urge to get into the World Series one more time. Thome's been twice--with the Indians in 1995 and 1997--and never won. Plus, we'd get at least one middling prospect, which is one more than if Thome retires at the end of the season in a Twins uniform.
However, both Sinker and local blogger hero John Bonnes, aka Twins Geek, ask this strange question: would you want Thome to get traded to a contender if that contender were--cue ominous music--the Chicago White Sox?!?
Full disclosure: I consider John a personal friend, have worked for him, and I think he's a great writer--Twins Geek should be essential reading for any Twins fan. However, my friendship with John does not also prevent me from saying "what the fuck?"
Now, we have tripped all over ourselves gushing about Jim Thome, and for good reason. But I guess I'm hoping to see Thome hit the waiver wire so we can get something, anything, for him in trade. Secondarily, I'd like to see him get on a winning team because I agree with fans: he's a great guy, a credit to the sport, and deserves a shot.
But, seriously, who did you think that team was going to be? Why would the Indians, Tigers, White Sox, Yankees, or Red Sox be any better? Especially the Yanks?
The White Sox are one of the teams in contention. That had to be on your mind.
The Chicago White Sox won the World Series in 2005, doing something we have been yet unable to do, namely, win postseason games. They beat us in 2008 in that one game playoff, before being spanked by the Tampa Bay (not Devil) Rays.
I've personally witnessed Ozzie Guillen speak filthy volumes about how great the Twins are--let's not forget his "piranha" quip was meant to be a form of respect, which we then used to sell t-shirts celebrating our weakest players.
We have duly hated A. J. Pierzynski, perhaps the cherry on the tippy top of our venom sundae. We did so in spite of the fact that, unlike other Twins (Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, Chuck Knoblauch), Pierzynski did not want to leave. He was with San Francisco for a season, and in return we got Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and a guy named Boof Bonser. That's all good.
If you're going to make the argument that Thome needs to go to a team that will contend, than you should really stick by your argument and make sure he goes to a team that will contend--be it the White Sox, Yankees, Red Sox, or Phillies (or whomever.)
Jim Thome deserves it, and you know what? If the White Sox are the Central Division representatives in the postseason, after their miserable start, and with clean-cut Midwestern Illinois child Thome in the lineup, well, then there's the team that has my support, all the way to the end. Compared to Texas, Los Angeles, and especially the Red Sox and Yankees, they'd be the underdogs, with Mr. 600 leading the way in his last stand.
If that doesn't sit well with you, well, damn, that's kinda sad.
If Thome doesn't make it to a contending team, at least he's protected: according to Big League Stew at Yahoo!, the NuVo condom company is celebrating Jim Thome's historic blast by sending the Minnesota Twins 600 prophylactics. As the company's press release brags: "You can always hit a home run with NuVo condoms!"
Congratulations, Jim Thome! Your teammates thank you.
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