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The Big Hurt is about to hang 'em up

Jun 26, 2009, 11:02 AM EDT

The Big Hurt is ready to face reality:

Frank Thomas said he’s getting close to announcing his retirement,
and the 41-year-old slugger said he’s having fun being a member of the
media. The Chicago White Sox’s all-time leader in home runs, RBI and
runs, finished last season with the Oakland A’s and hasn’t been picked
up this season.

“That percent right now [that I'll play again] is probably about
five percent, since we’re so deep into the season now,” Thomas said on
ESPN 1000. “But I’m still in shape, ready to go, if anything happens.
But I’m getting close to announcing my retirement because I just turned
41. I just want to make sure that it’s the move I really want to make.
I don’t want to be one of those guys that keeps coming back and keeps
saying, ‘I’m unretiring, I’m coming back.’ I want to make sure it’s out
of my system.”

Well, sort of face reality. I think baseball has more or less taken
care of the “retire/unretire” option for Thomas. Though he could still
probably be useful on an AL team, no one wants him (unlike Griffey, who
is probably less useful than Thomas, Thomas doesn’t have a home where
he can go and become a gate attraction), so the decision is pretty much
out of his hands.

Thomas will be an interesting Hall of Fame case. He should be a lock
on the numbers alone, but spending so much time at DH is gong to hurt
him with some voters. It’s less clear how the steroids era will effect
him. On the one hand he was outspoken against PEDs and helped lead the
charge to institute testing. And the media recognized him for that to
some degree. On the other hand, there’s a strong sense that all
offensive statistics — not just those of the PED users — were
inflated during Thomas’ career, so people may discount his
accomplishments even if they don’t consider them to be illegitimate in
and of themselves. That may be a little unfair and irrational, but if
you don’t think the BBWAA can be unfair and irrational, you’re not very
familiar with their work.

For what it’s worth, he’d have my vote.

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