Jim Thome unleashes monster blast for 596th career homer

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Jim Thome’s monstrous three-run homer yesterday was the 596th of his Hall of Fame career and the Twins measured it at 490 feet, which would be the longest homer in the brief history of Target Field and the longest homer hit by anyone in the majors this season.

Oh, and it also turned a 1-1 tie into a 4-1 win for the Twins, who’re suddenly just five games back in the AL Central despite starting the season 17-37.

My favorite part of Thome’s homer may have been Delmon Young’s reaction to it from the on-deck circle, which is the perfect facial representation of “daaaaaaaamn.”

Thome needs four more homers to become the eighth player in MLB history to reach 600, joining Barry Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, and Sammy Sosa. Thome is basically a part-time player at age 40, so in order for him to move above No. 8 on the list and pass Sosa with 609 he’d have to return for a 22nd season in 2012. As a Twins fan I’d certainly love to see him back, as his .965 OPS is the highest in team history among all hitters with 150 or more games.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.