Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Thome Predicament

The Grass Isn't Always Greener
My mother was asked out by David Hasselhoff multiple times when they were both in high school.  Repeatedly she said no because according to her “He was 6’6” and didn’t like or play sports” (A woman after my own heart).  Often times I wonder what life would be like if she had said yes.  Growing up as Jimmy Hasselhoff would definitely have its upside.  The access to an endless supply of money would be nice. Affectionately being known as “Lil Hoff” by the entire country of Germany would be nicer.  And of course, being on set just as I reached puberty to watch Pamela Anderson and Yasmine Bleeth run like the wind (in their primes no less) would be the nicest.   If I had blinders on, I might think that life would be better as a member of the Hasselhoff family.  But what about having to endure the dreadful German music career, being constantly teased as a kid about dad’s terrible acting, and let’s not forget about the embarrassment that his drunken escapades might have on my life?  While there might be glitz and glamour to being a Hoff, the negatives far outweigh the positives.  I’ll happily take my life and my dad as is.

I’m sure you’re asking yourself, how in the world does this connect to the Sox?  Well, I’ll tell you.   Lately, there has been a lot of talk in the newspapers and on the radio about Kenny Williams’ and Ozzie Guillen’s decision to not resign Jim Thome this year.  Many people are pointing to Thome’s decent numbers (.269 AVG, 17 homers, and 44 RBIs) and his clutch 9th inning walk-off home run against the Sox last week as Exhibit A and Exhibit B of why it was a mistake to let him walk.  Twin’s supporters keep trying to push Exhibit C by saying he is one of the main reasons their team has climbed back into first place.  While that’s all fine to fantasize about just as I can dream about having the opportunity of a childhood summer internship as a sunscreen applier on the set of Baywatch, people are forgetting about exhibit D, Thome’s negative effect on the Sox, just like I might have a tendency to forget about something like this.
.269, 17 Homers, and 44 RBIS

Even when he was putting up big numbers for the Sox in 2006-2008, he always seemed to come up empty in clutch, late-inning situations.  With two outs, in the bottom of the 9th, and Thome stepping to the plate, I had no confidence whatsoever.  In fact, I would usually have the remote up in the air, pointed at the receiver, with my finger firmly on the power button so that I could turn the television off as quickly as possible as Big Jim disappointed me once again.  To go along with his inefficiencies in the clutch, he had (and still has) horrendous speed.  The Sox realized that if they wanted to win, they could not be so reliant on the long ball anymore.  Instead, they needed a lineup who could manufacture runs in late-game situations with speed and timely hitting.  With Thome and Konerko clogging up the basebath’s with their tortoise-like speed, manufacturing runs was not possible.  It’s kind of like a community recognizing that they have a teen drug problem and still retaining Lindsey Lohan and Robert Downey Jr. as the leaders of their DARE program.  It just doesn’t make sense; therefore, Thome (since he can’t play first base anymore) had to be the one to go.  As a result, the Sox are a much better team for it.  They are able to go first to third on a more consistent basis and don’t need to wait around for the long ball.  If Thome still was a member of the Sox, I guarantee they are a .500 team at best.

Even with that said some would argue that even if I’m right, and Thome made the Sox worse, they doesn’t negate the fact that he has made the Twins better.  Absolutely true But, and I mean a Kim Kardashian sized one, I’d argue that Sox are a .500 team this year with Thome (81-81) and the Twins win the division with a 85 wins (85-77) without him.  Now, let’s say this race goes down to the wire and there has to be a one game playoff to decide who wins the division with both teams finishing at (89-73).  That would mean (all other factors being equal), that the subtraction of Thome calculated out to eight more wins for the Sox, while the addition of Thome added four more wins for the Twins.  Thus, while both teams benefited, the Sox benefited at a greater rate. 

Furthermore, if the rumors are true, not having Thome leaves the Sox in a situation where they can pick up Manny for the final month of the season to help put them over the top.  I know, I know, this completely contradicts the idea about the Sox being able to manufacture more runs because of greater team speed, and thus why they are better off.  My counter-argument, although it may be a case of selective memory (particularly excluding post-PED Manny), would be that Ramirez’s ability to come through in the clutch balances that out.  The fear for opposing pitchers when Manny Ramirez comes to the plate with the game on the line dwarfs that of 99 percent of other hitters in the league.   Although seeing THAT Manny ever again might be a pipe dream, it is certainly fun to think about and an idea that I hope Kenny Williams gives serious consideration.  Just the thought of having Ozzie and Manny in the same clubhouse makes me giddy. 

So.............. if you didn’t read anything from this column and skipped to this paragraph, basically I discredited everything Jim Thome did for the Sox based on his lack of speed.  Yet, I also pushed for the acquisition of Manny Ramirez even though it completely went against everything I said about Thome being a detriment to the Sox ability to manufacture runs.  I did this by praising Manny’s clutchness while conveniently misrembering (along with Andy Pettite) that he is no longer the player he once was.  On top of that, I lauded my mother’s decision to refuse David Haselhoff’s advances and somehow used that as justification as an irrefutable defense of Ozzie and Kenny’s Thome decision.  With all that said, I will now explain my inconsistencies with the help of the immortal lyrics of my quasi-father in which he stated “In us we all have the power but sometimes it’s so hard to see.  And instinct is stronger than reason; it’s just human nature to me.”  (Unfortunately, although I don't know how, this verse didn't make the final cut for TV).  From that it is as clear as night and day.  My baseball instincts are stronger than any Sabermetrics guru who might try to use things like statistics or reason to prove me wrong.  The Sox made the right decision and that’s final. 

So in the end, I am grateful because different decisions by different people have benefited my life tremendously.  Thank you Ozzie and Kenny for making the Sox better, thank you mom for marrying dad, and last but not least, thank you Hoff for bailing my flawed argument out with the eloquently written words from your Baywatch theme song.  Life would not be the same without all of you.   

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you let me know about your blog. Definitely a fun read. You had me at Kim Kardashian.