Jan 14, 2011, 3:38 PM EDT
Danny Knobler asks that question in light of Jim Thome’s signing and his inevitable 600th home run:
Thome is entirely likeable, by teammates, fans and writers alike. A whole bunch of people will be happy for him when he gets to 600. But will it feel magic?
I’m not so sure it will.
This just isn’t the same as when 600 belonged only to Aaron, Ruth and Mays. Thome has been a fine player, but he’s not Aaron and he’s not Ruth and he’s not Mays — and I imagine he would happily admit that. That’s not to say 600 is now meaningless, not at all. It’s a great accomplishment, and even after the steroid era, it’s not a common accomplishment … That’s a good thing. If 600 home runs is going to be special, we can’t be having a run at 600 every year … Now, is it still special? Is there any magic left in it? Jim Thome will tell us.
I don’t think anyone would ever claim that Jim Thome was as good as Ruth, Aaron or Mays, and if they did they’d need to get their head examined. But why do we insist that numbers are somehow “magical?”
If Jim Thome hit 600 home runs, it means that in the home run department he did exactly what the other 600 home run hitters did. Don’t we diminish Thome if, the second he hits 600, we declare the feat to be no longer “magical?” Kind of insulting, ain’t it?
How about this: it always was just a number. It always will be just a number. There’s nothing magical about it. Indeed, there’s nothing that the number 600 tells us beyond the fact that 600 home runs have been hit. We can assess Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and yes, even Jim Thome just fine without wondering if one of their achievements is merely special, extra special or — gasp! — magical.
- 2014 Trade Deadline Tracker 14
- Red Sox trade John Lackey to Cardinals for Allen Craig and Joe Kelly 61
- The Lester trade is a win-win 105
- BLOCKBUSTER: Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes heading to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes 160
- The State of the Trade Deadline: Yesterday was pretty sleepy. Will general managers wake up today? 40
- Cardinals acquire Justin Masterson from Indians 49
- There’s a “very good chance” the Red Sox trade Lackey and Lester 53
- Hey, Rube: Phillies pay dearly for Amaro’s misguided loyalty 92
- Expert’s Corner: How to troll fans of all 30 teams (201)
- “Caucasians” t-shirts are hot sellers on Canadian Indian reservations (199)
- BLOCKBUSTER: Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes heading to Oakland for Yoenis Cespedes (160)
- Rangers’ retirement gifts for Derek Jeter: Yankees cowboy boots, signed George W. Bush photo (121)
- Must-click link: sexual depravity — and possibly rape — in the minor leagues (105)