x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Thome's milestone unfairly gets little attention

Jim Thome's 600th career home run went largely unnoticed because, after Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez, home runs are generally viewed with a little more suspicion. That's a slight to Thome, who has never failed a drug test or was mentioned in the Mitchell Report.

Jim Thome of the Minnesota Twins hit his 600th career home run last week, becoming just the eighth player in major-league history to reach that milestone.

But the publicity surrounding his feat was strangely muted.

There was nowhere near the amount of attention given to Derek Jeter's 3,000th career hit, achieved last month.

Part of that can be attributed to Jeter's iconic status with the New York Yankees and the market in which he plays.

Nonetheless, 27 others have done what Jeter did, so Thome's feat was far more rare.

But the real reason Thome did not have a documentary crew following him, the way Jeter did, is this: Home runs are now viewed with more than a little suspicion.

It's worth noting that three of the four previous players to reach 600 homers did so while being linked - directly, indirectly or by accusation - with performance-enhancing drugs (PED). Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa and Alex Rodriguez got there tarred by the PED tag.

Until Thome, Ken Griffey Jr was the only recent player to join the 600 home run club without having the legitimacy of the feat questioned. Thome was never mentioned in the Mitchell Report. He never failed a drug test. Yet fans more or less shrugged off his accomplishment.

That's sad, as Thome is one of the sport's true gentlemen.

He can thank his contemporaries, many of whom took shortcuts to greatness, that he didn't get the credit he deserved.