Monday, February 9, 2009

The Big...Truth?

I can look myself in the mirror and know that I'm just an asshole - not a cheater.

With yet another steroid user leading the way in baseball, it's tough to want to give a damn right now. Really - you wait six years to release a piss sample from 2003? It's really tough to trust any success story in this league when your first instinct is to assume that the talent comes straight from steroids.

Well, except for one case.

See, there's this guy named Frank Thomas who not only vehemently denies ever touching the stuff, but goes out of his way to screw over people that DO take 'roids. He testified at the congressional hearing regarding steroids (you know, the one where Sammy Sosa mysteriously forgot how to speak English and required a translator), and he actually volunteered to help in the Mitchell Report (he was the only player). If there was ever a guy who wanted all the cheaters in baseball to go to hell and die, it's Frank Thomas.

Due to "certain individuals," Thomas' name is often forgotten, and is buried in the middle of the pack in the record books. Thomas had the same massive thighs and body his entire career, had roughly the same swing, and never really fluctuated wildly in size (see: Bonds, Barry). He never got "cut" using supplements, and the only change in his year-to-year was his gradually slowing down (due to a combination of age and injury). All in all, Thomas had a very consistent and plausible career. With yet another steroid user in the books, it makes Thomas' stellar performance stand out even more:

Currently, Thomas ranks 18th on the all-time homerun list, but he certainly rises up the ranks once you start crossing out people ahead of him: A-Rod, Sosa, Bonds, Palmeiro, and Mark McGwire all have some explaining to do. Ditto for all-time RBI, where Thomas currently enjoys 1700+ RBI.

Likewise, Thomas absolutely dominates in "skill, not power" categories. For starters, Thomas is one of only four players to to record at least a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1,500 RBIs, 1,000 runs and 1,500 walks - he's in good company with Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams. And that's AFTER a few lousy seasons in Oakland and Toronto. Thomas also currently ranks 9th all-time for walks (and would be 8th if not for Bonds' "walk-o-matic" final seasons).

Assuming Thomas finds a taker this season (not to mention the ability to run), it will likely be his last in baseball. A man who is best known for being an asshole on his team and being a "pretty good hitter." No, he wasn't "pretty good" - he was probably the best of our era...and he did it clean.

As Frank said himself:
"[I want to be remembered] as someone who locked in it every day, and someone who could get results from good technique."


Dre said...

Amen. Big Hurt was the Natural. His contemporaries were the Lab Experiments.

Bob Mantz said...

Nice write up - Nice read.

Fisting Andrew Golota said...

Best article on here in a while. Props.