That was until, once again, Sox manager Ozzie Guillen opened his mouth for his semi-annual attempt to “distract the sports writers from noticing how terrible my team is with the promise that I’ll say something more stupid than I did the last time.” You see…it’s almost like Daylight Saving Time. Like clockwork, it happens twice a year, but it feels like much more than that.
I mean, you ever have those days where it feels like you got an hour less of sleep? You never quite recover…do ya?
Last week, in the wake of the much ballyhooed sex doll debacle at US Cellular Field, Guillen opened his mouth, did his best Lee Elia impersonation and out came this little gem…“we’re the Chicago bitch”.
He figures that on the Chicago landscape, his team plays second fiddle to the “Lovable Losers”. According to Guillen, a team that hasn’t won squat in 100 years is better off than one that took home the trophy in 2005.
And he’s right.
People are absolutely stupid for the Cubs…not so much for the White Sox. Not only are they the Rodney Dangerfield of the Chicago sports scene…but, as it seems, Major League Baseball as well. Think about it, unless they are playing some of the primetime regulars (Yankees, Red Sox or Indians), you’d be hard pressed to find the Second City’s second favorite team get much play on either FOX, ESPN or TBS.
Hell…I don’t even know if White Sox even respect THEMSELVES or their own history!
One player that more than exemplifies this notion is Frank Thomas. And as a friend recently pointed out to me…“Thomas is the best player to ever play for the Sox and they probably won’t even retire his number.”
Before the “Pale Hose” envoked the horseshit “diminished skills” clause following their Championship run in 2005…the “Big Hurt” was already one of a very, very elite group of players.
Currently, Thomas is one of FOUR players to have a .300 average, 500 home runs, 1500 RBIs, 1000 runs and 1500 walks during their career. Who are the other three? Mel Ott, Ted Williams and Babe Ruth…not too shabby.
Matter of fact, Thomas has a handful of goofball records like that…records that no one REALLY knows how to put into context.
- Thomas is the ONLY player in baseball history to have seven consecutive seasons of a .300 average, 100 runs, 100 RBI, 20 home runs and at least 100 walks.
- He was the seventh member of the .300 average and 500 home run club.
- There are only six players with more home runs and a higher career average than Thomas.
- Thomas is one of six players to have amassed 1600 walks and 500 home runs.
- Thomas was the first player to win two silver slugger awards each at two different positions.
- My favorite…Thomas is the ONLY player to hit more than 90 sacrifice flies (he has 120) and not collect a single sacrifice hit.
The kicker (and perhaps the biggest knock AGAINST Frank Thomas)…Thomas is the all-time record holder for home runs by a designated hitter. Coincidently, it is former teammate Harold Baines who, while he has more than 2800 hits…gets SLAMMED for having been a DH for most of his career.
Okay, so we know (or at least we’ve been told) how good Frank Thomas WAS. His stats stack up favorably to some old school Hall of Famers that we’ve all heard of…but frankly, they are merely footnotes in history.
Who here actually saw Mel Ott play? How about Jimmie Foxx?!? Case rested.
So, let’s talk about how good the “Big Hurt” IS.
You know that “Thomas is the ONLY player in baseball history to have seven consecutive seasons of a .300 average, 100 runs, 100 RBI, 20 home runs and at least 100 walks” I referenced earlier? Well, Thomas did this to START his career AND it includes the strike shortened season of 1994. Surely SOMEONE has had to come close to this feat, right?
Actually…yes, and his name is Albert Pujols.
Yes, THAT Albert Pujols who is seemingly EVERYWHERE right now. Minus the walks (Pujols doesn’t have the knack to frustrate pitchers like Thomas does) and one season where he had 99 runs scored…we’ve got virtually identical players at the plate.
That is…for their first seven seasons, which is all Pujols has on the books.
Both finished in the top ten in MVP voting each of those seven seasons. Thomas brought home two awards…Pujols one. All in all…Thomas has nine top ten finishes.
Let’s get back to the numbers.
Going into this season, Pujols had 4054 at bats. At the same point in HIS career, Thomas had 3821…but remember the walks, people. Pujols does have the edge in runs (847 to 785), hits (1344 to 1261), home runs (282 to 257), RBI (861 to 854) and average (.332 to .330), but one could argue that we’re in more of a power era that 1991 to 1997 when Thomas was in his heyday.
As an aside (and I am not insinuating in the least that Pujols touched “the juice”), look at Thomas when he broke in and look at him now…he’s pretty much the same size…a far cry from Barry Bonds or Jason Giambi. Here’s a guy was the ONLY active baseball player interviewed for the Mitchell Report.
He was so sure of his cleanliness…he did so voluntarily.
Why is Frank Thomas so forgotten? Is it because he was mostly used as a DH?
But the idea is to help your team win ballgames, right? Thomas did just that…and did it better than a LARGE percentage of the players ever to put on the cleats.
So again…why is Thomas forgotten?
Fifteen years ago, I would have said that Thomas got lost in the fanfare surrounding Bo Jackson, Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. Simply put…he just didn’t have “it”. Fast forward to today…David Ortiz has a hard time stringing together more than a few words of broken English, yet he has more endorsement deals than I can count.
Outside of a 1995 Super Nintendo game, I couldn’t tell you one other time that I saw Frank Thomas being celebrated and as I referenced in the first line of this diatribe, I do live near the belly of the beast…the city that gave us the Rodney Dangerfield of Major League Baseball.
So what is it?
If it isn’t the accolades, the plethora of numbers or odd assortment of accomplishments, it can only be one thing…nobody cares about the White Sox.
***Note: Based on the "Is Frank Thomas a Hall of Famer" poll that was on the page...87% of you think "first ballot all the way". I agree.***