The reactions to Jim Thome’s 600th are just as interesting as the feat itself

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I offered to my congratulations to Jim Thome on his 600th home run in the recaps this morning. In response, my Twitter friend Ross offered the following:

You say congrats to Thome but with your way [i.e. my not liking the DH]  he would have never got 600. This is why I like the DH, hitters keep hitting.

My response:

Hey, we can simultaneously (a) wish the world was different; but (b) appreciate the joys that result from the way it is.

To which Ross responded:

I think you inadvertently explained the popularity of Jersey Shore in a profound way.

Yikes. My apologies for providing intellectual cover for more bad TV.  I feel kinda dirty now.

But it’s OK, because this is all part of a greater “what we’re supposed to feel about Jim Thome’s 600th home run” conversation that has been brewing today.  On the one hand, we have a lot of the expected “Jim Thome is a great guy who is corn-fed and country strong and isn’t this all swell stuff.”  We also have some “man, I’m tired of this ‘Jim Thome is a great guy who is corn-fed and country strong and isn’t this all swell stuff'” stuff. The whole idea/backlash thing is pretty much what the internet is made for, so this isn’t unexpected.

And of course some are trying to put it in statistical context, which inevitably takes some of the magic away, which some of you will think is awful and some of you will like just fine.

At times like these — milestones, I mean — I’m more and more inclined to remember the beer and think more in terms of celebrations than assessments.  We’ve had the chance to assess Thome’s career and character for the past 20 years. When it’s time to start talking about his Hall of Fame case, we’ll have the chance to assess it objectively then too (though, as the link makes clear, we should remember the beer some then too).  But on the day after something happens, hey, good on the guy.

But not Ryan Howard. I’ll go after that guy until I draw my last breath and make a point to never celebrate his accomplishments no matter how lofty they are.*

*Note: may be an exaggeration

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.