Danny Knobler asks that question in light of Jim Thome’s signing and his inevitable 600th home run:
Thome is entirely likeable, by teammates, fans and writers alike. A whole bunch of people will be happy for him when he gets to 600. But will it feel magic?
I’m not so sure it will.
This just isn’t the same as when 600 belonged only to Aaron, Ruth and Mays. Thome has been a fine player, but he’s not Aaron and he’s not Ruth and he’s not Mays — and I imagine he would happily admit that. That’s not to say 600 is now meaningless, not at all. It’s a great accomplishment, and even after the steroid era, it’s not a common accomplishment … That’s a good thing. If 600 home runs is going to be special, we can’t be having a run at 600 every year … Now, is it still special? Is there any magic left in it? Jim Thome will tell us.
I don’t think anyone would ever claim that Jim Thome was as good as Ruth, Aaron or Mays, and if they did they’d need to get their head examined. But why do we insist that numbers are somehow “magical?”
If Jim Thome hit 600 home runs, it means that in the home run department he did exactly what the other 600 home run hitters did. Don’t we diminish Thome if, the second he hits 600, we declare the feat to be no longer “magical?” Kind of insulting, ain’t it?
How about this: it always was just a number. It always will be just a number. There’s nothing magical about it. Indeed, there’s nothing that the number 600 tells us beyond the fact that 600 home runs have been hit. We can assess Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and yes, even Jim Thome just fine without wondering if one of their achievements is merely special, extra special or — gasp! — magical.
What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? Just ask Javier Baez, who tracked down a sizzling 106-MPH ground ball from Jose Bautista on Friday afternoon. The defensive gem helped preserve the Cubs’ three-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, paving the way for Wade Davis‘ 25th save of the season.
Baez also impressed at the plate, collecting an RBI single in the second inning before getting tagged out at home by Miguel Montero on a convoluted 9-6-3-6-2 putout. He returned in the eighth inning to pester Tim Mayza and cleared the left field hedge with a 409-foot, two-run blast for his 20th home run of the year. With the win, the Cubs improved to 64-57 and now hold a scant 1.5-game lead over the Brewers in the NL Central.
The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.
Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.
It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.