Jim Thome throws out horrible first pitch (Video)

Jim-Thome-first-pitchJim Thome is less than two years removed from being on an MLB roster. The legendary slugger spent most of the later years of his career as a designated hitter, but you would think throwing a baseball would be second nature for him. That did not appear to be the case when he threw out the first pitch for the Triple-A Charlotte Knights on Friday.

Thome’s pitch was so bad that the camera set up behind home plate lost sight of it. The ball sailed juuuuuust a bit outside, to say the least. Considering he is seventh on the all-time home run list with 612 long balls, we know Thome’s best work always came from the plate. Perhaps the Knights should have made an exception and had a “first hit” ceremony rather than a first pitch.

Between Thome and Nolan Ryan, we have seen some horrible first pitches already this season from MLB icons. These guys need to take some pointers from Ice Cube.

Video via The Score

Ron Gardenhire: Jim Thome has to ‘thrill me’ to get his 607th home run ball back

A piece of memorabilia that once was lost has now been found. Last month, Jim Thome hit his 607th career home run against the Twins at Target Field when he was still with the Phillies. The ball appeared to land in one of the flower pots above the wall in right-center field and was not recovered until the following day. Now, it is in Twins manager Ron Gardenhire’s possession. Thome has been collecting most of his home run balls since he hit No. 500, so naturally he would like it back. It sounds like he’s going to have to pay.

“He’s got to do something to get this ball. I know that,” Gardenhire said according to the Pioneer Press. “He hurt our feelings. So if he wants the ball back, Jim, make my day. Thrill me. I’m not talking about on the field. I want to see something that helps one of our favorite charities.”

Gardenhire is obviously having a little fun with his former player, but making a charitable donation is the least Thome could do. In order to get the ball back, the Twins had to lower director of ballpark operations Gary Glawe over the wall in a harness. Thome said he appreciated the effort, so I’m sure he’ll be happy to cut the check.

Thome should just be thankful the ball didn’t end up somewhere similar to where Edwin Encarnacion’s homer landed over the weekend. If that happened, someone may have eaten it.

H/T Big League Stew
Photo credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

Jim Thome Returns to Phillies, Michael Cuddyer Also Being Pursued

Jim Thome may be 41 years old, but his career is not ending yet. The first baseman/DH has signed a one-year deal with the Phillies and will return to the city where he played three years earlier in his career.

Thome’s deal is for $1.25 million and he’ll give the Phillies a left-handed power bat off the bench. With Ryan Howard recovering from a torn tendon in his heel, Thome could even see time at first base.

Jim made his Major League debut in 1991, so it’s nothing short of astonishing that he’s still playing. He’s actually producing too; Thome hasn’t posted lower than an .838 OPS since 2006. The signing also marks the second time that Thome has returned to a team where he played earlier in his career. When he was traded to Cleveland mid-season, he returned to the Indians for whom he played from 1991-2002. Thome played for the Phillies between 2003-2005.

The Phillies are also reportedly pursuing Michael Cuddyer. Cuddyer was drafted by the Twins in 1997 and has played for them since 2001. He just completed a three-year $24 million extension and could be looking to make slightly more than $8 million per season.

Cuddyer was one of the few Twins able to hit at spacious Target Field last season (he hit half of his 20 homers at home), and his versatility is an asset. He saw action at first, second, and right field last season. He also has experience playing third base. He’s a valuable player to have on your team, but it will be tough to expect the same production he had last season for each season of a multi-year contract.

Jim Thome has been Traded, but Twins will Still Give Away his Wind-Up Walker

Jim Thome was claimed off waivers by the Indians and traded by the Twins for a player to be named later Thursday. Unfortunately, the Twins had already planned to give away 10,000 Jim Thome wind-up walker toys for Friday’s game but those were not included in the deal.

Yes, according to Rand Ball via Hardball Talk, the Twins still plan to carry out the Thome giveaway even though he’s no longer part of the team. Why deprive the great people of Minnesota of a perfectly good toy just because of some stupid little trade?

Where Tim Kurkjian Gets it Oh So Wrong on Jim Thome

Jim Thome hit two home runs Monday night to become the eighth player in MLB history to reach 600 career home runs. We’ve already gone through the myriad of reasons Thome’s accomplishment did not receive much attention. ESPN did a good job making up for a lack of a countdown with thorough coverage Monday. They led off SportsCenter with Thome’s achievement; it was the top headline on their homepage news feed; and it was the main centerpiece slide on their homepage. They also had veteran reporter/analyst Tim Kurkjian do a two-minute long feature on the man. It was in the feature where one of Kurkjian’s passages irked me.

“There have been more than 17,000 players in Major League history and this week Thome became only the eighth player to hit 600 home runs,” Kurkjian began. “In the aftermath of the steroid era, that no longer means certain induction in the Hall of Fame. But from all indications, Thome hit his 600 cleanly with no aid from performance-enhancing drugs. Instead, it was a combination of work ethic, tremendous strength, and the ability to hit home runs.”

That was said in Kurkjian’s video feature. His written column on Thome referenced steroids and PEDs more subtly. “Thome’s numbers came without flair, flash or controversy, especially involving steroids,” Kurjian wrote. He also pointed out that three other members of the 600 home run club (Bonds, Sosa, Rodriguez) were tied to PEDs.

There is a major, major fault with Kurkjian’s report that must be addressed. It’s an issue that reflects the stance of many other notable baseball writers, and one that colors the viewpoint of many fans.

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Why Isn’t Jim Thome’s 600 Career Home Run Chase Getting More Attention?

Slugger Jim Thome has 596 career home runs and is four away from becoming just the eighth player in MLB history to reach the 600 homer milestone. The seven players to achieve the mark are some of the game’s all-time best players: Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey Jr. (630), Alex Rodriguez (626), and Sammy Sosa (609). Bonds, Aaron, Ruth, and Mays are considered four of the greatest offensive players in history. A-Rod and Griffey are two of the best all-around players baseball has seen. Sosa was a steroids freak.

The point is the 600 home run club is extremely exclusive and reserved for elite players (Sosa excluded). That being the case, our friends at Babes Love Baseball raised an interesting question: why isn’t Jim Thome receiving more attention for his pursuit of the elusive mark?

I came up with five reasons why his chase is not getting more attention.

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Jim Thome Joins the Club

As you can imagine, I’m quite pleased to have yet another established slugger join the coveted ranks of the LBS Golden Sombrero Club. The elite franchise that is the LBS GS Club has no room for the Paul Janishes of the world; we’re all about the Hall of Famers, the 500 home run club members. Jim Thome could be the club’s proudest inductee up to this point. Anyway, if Thome had been halfway productive on Saturday against Tampa Bay, maybe his team wouldn’t have lost 5-3. Then again, with the way Scott Kazmir shut them down (except for Jermaine Dye), you really can’t blame him.

Thome thrice took the gas pipe against Scott Kazmir, twice swinging and once looking. Then in the 9th, Thome punched out swinging against Dan Wheeler. For the second straight game against the Rays, the White Sox bullpen blew a late innings lead, this time they gave up 4 runs in the 8th to fall behind 5-3. On Friday night, the pen gave up 3 in the 8th and 3 more in the 9th to lose 9-4. As White Sox fan extraordinare Lance Johnson says, if the White Sox lose the division by one or two games, blame it all on Octavio Dotel. Surely not Jim Thome — those 500+ home runs have to come at a price, right?