From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Displays of Authenticity (4)—Thome Run #600

[a] Thomer  RF
Every baseball season is highlighted by several runs at milestones. Every sport has a few significant numbers, from the 4:00 mile and ten-second hundred meters (both from a much earlier era) to one-hundred points in a game (Wilt Chamberlain's NBA record). No sport can come close to competing with baseball for numbers, though. Even keeping to just the most prominent numbers over a career, there are a dozen or more that are truly meaningful and gain the attention of every serious fan. They range from .300 (batting average) and 3,000 (hits) to 300 (wins for a pitcher) and 3,000 (strikeouts).

Among those numbers, 600 is one of the biggies.

[b] Hank Aaron  RF
I speak of home runs. Before Monday night, only seven major leaguers in history had achieved the feat. It requires thirty home runs every year during the course of a twenty year career. In all decades before the last two, thirty home runs in one year was an impressive feat, and that might well be the reason why only three people had hit six-hundred career home runs before 2000—Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays.

Four more sluggers joined the club in the first decade of the twenty-first century. Only the fiercest defender would dispute the assertion that three of those four aided their quests with various medical enhancements. The stories are well-known, and I am not going to bother with any of them here. Instead, I single out only Ken Griffey Jr. for salutation as an authentic 600 home run hitter. Good for you, Ken.

This Round and Square entry is about authenticity. Hitting 600 home runs is hard (and long) work, and another truly inspiring slugger with massive biceps and a kind personality has joined the club. I am a little bit biased, because he plays for my Minnesota Twins right now, and hit number 600 on Monday night in a Twins uniform.

This is much bigger than team preferences, though. You see, Jim Thome showed up in the major leagues in 1991 as a big guy...and he didn't get significantly bigger (this is not the case with several of the other recent 600-hitters). His last name is pronounced "toe-may", and he just kept being the consummate professional—hitting an array of singles, doubles, and homers (not too many triples). By all accounts, he is one of the nicest and most authentic players in the game. I will say no more in adulation, but rather link a few news stories on the subject and call it a day.

[c] Workman  RF
Before I do, though, I can't resist a comment on the way we use the word "authentic." Don't think that I am just making this up. That word (or several linked to it) has been used routinely in the last few months, as Thome neared the record. His is a "genuine" milestone because he didn't use steroids. What does that mean? I admit that I am inclined to agree with the characterization, but it is not less problematic for that. What does an "authentic" or "genuine" record mean? What is the relationship between 762 home runs with "enhancements" and 755 without?

What is authenticity?

All I can say today—soaked in admiration for the big slugger and his workmanlike career—is that Jim Thome is the very picture of it.

No comments:

Post a Comment