The days are getting shorter and the air has turned cold. The greens of the summer have started that annual change to the gold, red, and brown of the fall. Our short sleeved shirts and bathing suits have lost their place on our bodies, only to be replaced by sweatshirts and long pants. Here in Chicago, we have already had our first frost, and only the most hardy of out door plants have not started wilting. It is that time of year again when the seasons pass the torch and we prepair ourselves for the winter to come. Halloween is just around the corner, and Thanksgiving is not too far behind. Some ambitious stores have even started to get ready for the Christmas season. As with the seasons, so too must our sports teams also pass onto the next season. The boys of summer are taking their last bow, and it is time for the grid iron heros to take their place in the sports world. It is football season.
So let’s talk a little baseball.
For most of the fans in Chicago, the baseball season ended sometime in August, but for those of us who work in and around the sport, we had to hang on to the bitter end. And believe me it was bitter this year. Oh sure, there were a few bright spots for the south side with Jake Peavy finally making it to the mound to win three games in his only three starts since being acquired in late July, and with Freddy Garcia making it back to the big leagues to solidify a spot as the fifth starter. And of course there was the emergence of a potential future All-Star and possible Rookie-of-the-Year in Gordon Beckham, who actually made my son forget about the loss of Joe Crede by mid-season. But you won’t hear the words “Wait til next year” cross my lips. I will leave that battle cry to the other team in town and wish them luck as they try to get rid of the problems that plague their line-up.
I turn my attention now to the post season, and my desire to continue watching baseball. For me, it is a habit that is hard to break, and I have been desperately looking for a reason to keep watching. For a team to get behind and someone to root for here in October. Although I find myself not hating the Yankees as I have in past years, there are still plenty of reason to want to see them to miss the World Series again, and I find myself hoping the Angels can pull things together and knock the Yankees off. But the Angels are not the team I will be rooting for this year. This year I will be pulling for the other team from California, the Dodgers. And despite the fact that Manny Ramirez makes this a very hard team to root for, I am pulling for them for another reason, and his name is Jim Thome
When Thome was traded to the Dodgers late in the season, it was one of those moves that you understand from a baseball perspective, but you hate to see happen as a fan. The truth is, Thome is 39 years old, has back, knee, and foot problems, and his ability to play the field is almost non-existant. His role with the Dodgers has been reduced to a left-handed pinch hitter, but when he gets on base he is almost always lifted for a pinch runner. If the Dodgers do make it to the World Series, I would imagine he would be their DH when playing in the American League park, and I would like to see him get that chance. Thome has made it very clear that he does not intend to retire after this year, but given his limited playing ability, the chances that he will land with another contending team in the next few years seems somewhat unlikely. So this may be his last chance at a World Series ring. And I can’t think of another player in the post season this year who deserves one more.
Thome has already put together a nineteen year career that will guarantee him a spot in the Hall of Fame. While with the Indians, he was part of a team that played in six post seasons in seven years, including two World Series appearances, but unfortunately they were beaten by Atlanta in 1995 and the Florida Marlins in 1997. When Thome came to the White Sox in 2006 he said it was because he wanted a chance to compete with a team that could bring him back to the World Series, and although they won 90 games that year they failed to return to the post season until 2008. But despite his career numbers as a player, there is another reason I would like to see Jim Thome get a World Series ring, it is because he is a genuinely nice person. From what I have seen personally, in a world full of selfish players who don’t really care for the fans, Thome is the type of player you would want your kids to have as a role model. He is a family man and his charity work speaks for itself. Not just financially, but Thome has actually put a hammer in his hand and helped build homes for people less fortunate than himself.
In the current NLCS, Thome has only had a chance to bat twice, but both times he did his job,drawing a walk in the first game and hitting a single in the second. And he did it humbly, not like Manny, who hit a home run in the first game and then puffed out his chest and strutted that cocky walk of his halfway up the baseline watching the ball go out before he began to trot around the bases. I guess he forgot they were still losing the game at that time. And before anyone gives me that crap about Manny just being Manny, it’s really just Manny being an ass. And I don’t even have to mention his 50 game suspension. There is nothing like that t tarnish Jim Thome’s career. But who was the first person out of the dugout to greet Manny after that home run, you guessed it, Jim Thome.
So for this post season, I’m a Dodger fan. Or really a Jim Thome fan. That is unless the Bears are playing. Afterall, it is football season.