Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Finally, A Home Run Milestone Worth Remembering

Jim Thome's milestone of 600 home runs isn't earth shattering. It isn't unique (though the list sure is short), and it certainly doesn't wipe away all the wrongs we've seen in baseball over the last two decades.

No, Thome's home run total does not necessarily give him the right to sip from the baseball fountain of youth, to enjoy the nectar of the diamond gods. But like a tall glass of lemonade on a hot summer's day, it sure is refreshing.

We've struggled through a difficult era in baseball, one the that MLB is trying desperately to wash its hands of. The steroid scandals that took place on the diamond in the 1990s and 2000s changed the way we look at the game.

At the time, performance enhancing drugs helped make the game more exciting. But PEDs have robbed us of our baseball memories. The symbol of the era - the asterisk - epitomizes the "Yeah, but" attitude that steroids have created.

Remember when Mark McGwire beat out Sammy Sosa in the 1998 home run race? That was incredible. Yeah, but. Remember when Bonds captured the all-time home run record? That was absolutely unbelievable! Yeah, but. And isn't it amazing how quickly A-Rod got to 600 HRs? He's sure to set a new record during his career.

Yeah, but.

And that makes Jim Thome's 600th home run that much more important. Thome is an outstanding player and has been since his early days with the Indians. And despite beginning his career in 1991 - when the drugs were cheap and the needles were everywhere - Thome has never been linked to PEDs. As he greeted his family at home plate, I hope baseball fans thought This is a great baseball moment. Yeah.

It's as good a day as any to start making some new baseball memories. And this time, let's leave the asterisk behind.

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