Monday, January 15, 2018

612 or 609 – are 3 home runs really the difference for baseball’s Hall of Fame?

Chicago ballplayer likely to get into Hall
In just over a week, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce which ballplayers of the 1990s will be the newest inductees for immortalization with a bronze plaque at their museum in upstate New York.

Based on some of the information that has come out thus far, one-time Chicago White Sox slugger Jim Thome will be among the inductees. It seems the 612 home runs he hit during a nearly two-decade career are enough for him to be considered one of the game’s all-time greats.

The one who likely won't
YET AMONGST THE other ballplayers up for Hall of Fame consideration is one-time Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa – the man with 609 career home runs and the only ballplayer ever with three seasons of 60 or more home runs.

If you look solely at the statistics and take nothing else into account, the two of them ought to be comparable. In fact, one could make an argument that Sosa was far more significant to the Cubs than Thome was to the White Sox.

Thome may well have have hit his 500th home run while wearing the White Sox uniform, but Sosa had 545 of his home runs in the baby blue of the Cubbies.
The way Cubs fans will spin Thome

Sosa was also a major player in that 1998 season where he and St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGwire gave baseball fans a show many will forevermore remember as they pursued the single-season record for home runs. Then, they followed it up with an encore in 1999.

YET AS FAR as the Hall of Fame is concerned, the question will be by how far Thome exceeds the 75 percent of sportswriters with a ballot who support his candidacy.

A bigger question will be whether this is the year that Sosa finally falls below 5 percent support (he was just over 8 percent last year), which is the level at which he gets knocked off the ballot.

Or are there just enough people with pleasant memories of Sosa’s clownish on-field behavior that he’ll live on for another year’s consideration?

Sosa, of course, is the ballplayer who is tainted by the perception that he was among the ballplayers of the 1990s who used anabolic steroids to bolster himself.
Sox fans have tried to forget this happened

WHICH HAS MANY fans thinking of him as being the equivalent of one-time pitcher Roger Clemens and slugger Barry Bonds – two other stars whose statistics would have one think they’re shoo-ins for Cooperstown admittance.

I’m sure Cubs fans are going to go through their own squirming routines when the final Hall of Fame results are announced Jan. 24. They’re going to hate the notion that a White Sox player will get top honors, whereas the man whom they once thought of as becoming the new “Mr. Cub” (replacing Ernie Banks in that niche) remains a baseball “nothing.”

White Sox fans, of course, will snicker at that notion, particularly since White Sox fans were on to the notion that there was something phony about Sosa back when Cubs fans were proclaiming him as the ultimate evidence of their ball club’s superiority.

Of course, Thome isn’t really a part of the White Sox story, even if he played a few seasons in Chicago (and is a Peoria native who grew up rooting for the Cubs and the home run antics of Dave Kingman). I’m sure that when he gets Hall of Fame induction, he’ll be remembered primarily for his contributions to those Cleveland Indians teams that won league championships in 1995 and 1997 and were generally among the American League’s better teams of the ‘90’s.
Thome surpassed his childhood idol

I’M WONDERING HOW much the Cubbie types will want to insist Thome is only an Indian, and that Chicago has no claim to them. Of course, White Sox fans will forevermore have Sosa to sling at Cubs fans when they get cocky about the fact they actually managed to pull off one lone championship a couple of years ago.

Sosa is a millstone to the Cubs, which is why he hasn’t already had his moment of immortalization a few years ago – even though he is without a doubt one of the best ballplayers from the Dominican Republic to play professional ball in this country.

Even Cubs management say they can’t fully embrace his place in their legacy until he comes forth with the “truth” about whether he used steroids to bolster his strength artificially.

Something that Thome has never had to address. Which goes a long way to explain how two one-dimensional sluggers who are only 3 home runs apart will be remembered so differently.


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