by Mike DePilla
Sunday, October 11, 2009
In Satuday's Tribune, columnist Dave van Dyck pulls out the familiar Jim Thome "only out to get a ring" story. Van Dyck, and apparently a large chunk of the baseball world, see these playoffs as Thome's big chance to finally win the World Series and nab that one accomplishment that has eluded him in his 55 year career.
Sox GM Ken Williams will sing the same tune: that he traded Thome to LA as a "favor" to the big man, to aid him in his quest for a championship. And Thome says the same.
And now that the Dodgers have swept their way into the NLCS, they're one step closer to a Fall Classic in Los Angeles.
Now, I'm as big a fan of Thome as anybody, and I really want to see him get that ring, but, looking at the situation objectively, how much would a 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers World Series win really mean to Thome or his legacy? He was acquired by the Dodgers on August 31, meaning he was on the team for literally the bare minimum amount of time needed to qualify for post season rosters. He spent spring training and the first four months of the season with a different team in a different league, missing the bulk of the Dodgers division winning push.
He has not started a single game for the team. He has not played the field for a single inning. And he does not run the bases.
The only thing he can do is pinch hit, and he hasn't done that particularly well either: in 17 at bats with the Dodgers he has 4 hits (.235 BA), all singles, 3 RBIs and 7 Ks.
Sports is filled with stories of old stars latching on to a great team to win one championship. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. (Somewhere Karl Malone is still looking for his NBA championship.) The most fulfilling way for Thome to get his championship, obviously, is to be part of the team and its goal from the beginning and be a valuable everyday player, as opposed to merely being on a team that happened to win it all. If the season ended today and the Dodgers were World Champs, the accomplishment would have to seem hollow to the legendary slugger and do little-to-nothing for his legacy.
The only chance Thome has to make a real contribution to this team is in the World Series as a DH. That is what they acquired him for and, if he gets that far and knocks a ball or two out of the park, he can feel more pride in his role in the team. Can you imagine how sweet it would be for Thome to come up to the plate at Yankee Stadium and hit a game-winning homer off Mariano Rivera?
I hope, if he gets that chance, Big Jim will come through in a big way. Otherwise, does a ring really mean anything?
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