The folks at Baseball Tonight made good use of their time this week and had new employee Terry Francona film an interview with Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia. The best part was Arencibia conducted the interview as if he were ESPN baseball writer Tim Kurkjian. Arencibia got the lingo, pitch, voice, and delivery down perfectly, to the point Francona couldn’t continue because he was laughing so hard. This is easily one of the best impressions we’ve seen and it would probably make Frank Caliendo jealous. Excellent work all around, and it’s nice that Kurkjian was a good sport about it.
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.