Thome recently hit career home run No. 596 putting him 4 shy of the "magical" 600-home runs milestone and nobody is talking about it. I wonder why? When Derek Jeter was 4 hits shy of 3000 it was the talk of the baseball world and when he finally got to 3000 it was as if he had parted the Red Sea.
So why isn't Thome getting any Jeter-type love for his milestone pursuit?
In 3 words: The Steroid Era.
And three names in particular--
Barry Bonds. Sammy Sosa. Alex Rodriguez.
The above three, along with Ken Griffey Jr, have all reached the 600-HR milestone within the last decade, taking away some of the GUSTO from the once-treasured milestone.
Heck, with the exception of Junior, those three (above) players took away ALL THE GUSTO from the milestone which was once considered hallowed grounds in baseball.
As for Griffey, his membership was well accepted and didn't DENT the aura of the milestone. But even he didn't get the Jeter-type buzz when he hit No. 600.
As for the other three? Well, the fact that those three (suspected or admitted) steroid users are in the club has COMPLETELY SHATTERED the mystique that 600-HR once used to have....
....And that doesn't help Thome.
Besides, Thome has never really been a media darling anyway and his current .223 AVG as a part-time DH isn't helping his cause either. He's viewed as a has-been who is just hanging around to collect the milestone and then run off into the sunset.
Also, the record number of home runs hit during the Steroid Era has become the DARK SYMBOL of the era itself, so nowadays high home run totals are looked at with a suspicious eye by the average fan. Just ask Jose Bautista.
Thome, himself, has NEVER (I repeat, NEVER) been suspected of doing any sort of performance enhancing drug BUT-- unfortunately for him, he played in the same era with the aforementioned 3 players and-- fairly or unfairly-- he is a victim of guilt by association.
For Thome, and Bautista for that matter, this is a real BUM RAP. No doubt.
But as long as the aforementioned three names appear on the 600-HR list, the iconic-aura that the milestone once had will NEVER come back. EVER! Take that to the bank!
As for Jeter--
I highly doubt Thome will get the same EPIC-STYLE attention.
And finally, there's A-Rod--
The Yankees and the YES Network did everything in their power to hype up his "milestone" 600th home run last season, but as the above picture illustrates, many people around the country had a different opinion. Even amongst Yankee fans that I spoke to, there were mix feelings.
With 2762 hits, A-Rod is the odds-on-favorite to become the next member of the exclusive 3000-hit club. It'll be interesting to see if he gets the same Jeter-type love when his chase begins.