A Dying Breed

Jim Thome is, as of right now, the last great of a dying breed.

If you’re sitting in front of your computer guessing, it isn’t the exclusive 600 home run club that Albert Pujols will be a part of in no time.

Thome is the last great of a breed that used to be restricted to a special few until science got involved. Thome was blessed with this God-given gift until science got involved.

Jim Thome is the last great of the true home run hitters breed. He is the last great of a group who hit the ball that the chicks dig. When you think of the Jim Thome’s of the world there is no initial thought that crosses your mind other than ‘home run.’

Albert Pujols hits home runs but he is Mr. Consistency. The man without a hole in his swing. A player who hovers around the 200 hit plateau each and every season. When you think Albert Pujols, you might think greatest player in baseball.

Adam Dunn is the birth defect version of Jim Thome. The big lug who swings for the stars and hits bombs as high as the stars. The strikeouts are forgotten when these big men connect because they are what make baseball so special.

As the steroid era dies so does this extraordinary breed of home run hitters. Jim Thome would have been more appreciated if not for the massive influx of hitters who could hit the ball into McCovey Cove. To the best of our knowledge, Jim Thome was all-natural in his home run hitting.

If you take a look at the home run leaders for the 2011 season you won’t find anyone as great as Jim Thome in terms of his breed.

Prince Fielder, Ryan Howard. When all is said and done, these guys won’t measure up to what Jim Thome has done in his career. Prince Fielder won’t hit 25 home runs in limited at bats at the age of 39. Ryan Howard is going to be 32 years old in November and hasn’t even reached 300 home runs. They were bred like Jim Thome but will never duplicate what he has done.

Jim Thome’s don’t come along every decade. Major League Baseball only has 5 true players who have hit over 600 home runs in over 130 years of baseball.

Jim Thome’s consistent and realistic decline as a player is the indisputable sign of a pure bred home run hitter. In a 12 year span from 1996-2008 Jim Thome only reached 50 home runs in a season once but he was never below the 30 big fly mark.

In the coming years we will come to appreciate Jim Thome for the player he was. The rarer the flower the sweeter it is will be a phrase that will go hand in hand with his legacy.

The home run hitter’s breed will never die but there is no doubt that it has once again become endangered.

Major League Baseball won’t go without another great home run hitter in the future but with steroid’s being a thing of the past the odds are that it might be a little while before we see another as good as Jim Thome.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will happily return the favour.

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Star Unfairness

Roy Halladay pitchers for the first time at Rogers Centre in a Phillies Uniform

Being unable to challenge our current beliefs. It’s a black mark on our society. We continually accept things because it’s the way it has always been done. I wish we could change that.

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Sports are similar to life in so many ways. The elite of society get the benefit of the doubt. For example, rich men get beautiful women and the beautiful women are so often let off the hook.

In this sense, professional sports are no different.

The Wade’ and Kobe’s in basketball get more fouls called, the Brady’s and Manning’s in football get more yellow flags tossed in their favour and the Roy Halladay’s of the world get a bigger strike zone.

And here I am thinking that equality was something society strived toward.

The Blue Jays and Phillies game today featured Roy Halladay’s long awaited return to the city of Toronto. The game also featured some very inconsistent but typical game calling from home plate umpire Alfonso Marquez.

The fans sure let him know it and more so than any regular season game I have ever seen.

For 9 innings, Alfonso Marquez was giving the benefit to Roy Halladay while Blue Jay pitchers were forced to pitch in a confined strike zone. It all culminated in Blue Jay reliever Jon Rauch’s very amusing ejection. He had reason to be upset considering a 3-2 curve ball that caught the knees on Ryan Howard, that would have ended the inning, was called a ball. He blew up after the next batter, Shane Victorino, hit a single to drive in a run.

He didn’t blow up because of the one call though. It was the frustration of an entire game in which the better team and the better pitcher received better treatment. According to Pitch FX, the Blue Jays had 10 strikes called balls while the Phillies had 1.

The typicality in this kind of umpiring is nothing new. It is everything that is wrong with the mentality of society and how we see people above us. These people are special and we believe they should be treated in that way. Apparently, they have earned something that puts them above the rules.

Greg Maddux built a career on being able get strikes called on pitches thrown 3, 4 and even 5 inches off the plate. These were Pitches that batters had less of a chance at hitting than a chess champion has at picking up Jessica Alba. I guess umpires felt bad for Maddux and his perfect control. He needed extra room off the plate too.

The plate that is supposed to be set in stone. It is there for a reason yet umpires continually choose to expand it for stars like Roy Halladay and Mariano Rivera. It makes great pitchers absolutely unhittable.

Star players haven’t earned the right to bend the rules and rookies shouldn’t have to earn the right to get calls within the rules. The rules are put in place to ensure fairness. Every single player should have earned the right to get the same call as the next no matter how many years they have played in the league or how many 0’s are in their contract.

Referees, umpires, fans, players, former players, writers and analysts all seem to find this appropriate. That should make us livid.

We expect superstars to get better treatment when it should not be the case. It is another one of those instances in society where we accept it because it is the norm and always has been.

Do you think it’s fair when multi-bizzilionaire Alex Rodriguez gets out of paying a speeding ticket and you don’t when you’re struggling to pay the bills with 2 kids and a second mortgage on the house? I didn’t think so.

It also isn’t fair for Carlos Villaneuva to have to fight for every strike when his considerably more talented counterpart Roy Halladay does not.

I’m not sure what makes me angrier. Star players receiving every edge imaginable or people unwilling to challenge completely illogical societal norms.

When are fans going to step and say that this isn’t okay? When are fans going to step up and say that we can’t ignore this any longer?

Talent across sports will never be on an equal plain but there is no reason why the rules can’t be. Stop excusing the problem with “he has earned it” and start challenging the issue at hand.

As similar as sports can be to life it still isn’t the real world. This might be a fact of life but it doesn’t have to be a fact in sports.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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