Updating the Lord Livingston calendar…
Thome played for six teams and spent nine seasons elsewhere, despite saying, before he left Cleveland the first time, “They’ll have to tear the uniform off my back,” although really all the Phillies had to do was dangle a massive contract while the players union squeezed, and off popped the uniform, neatly enough.
A lot of Indians from the 1990s, led by Albert Belle and Manny Ramirez, chased the last dollar without saying their laundry would have to be shredded before it would be shed. A few others -– George Brett in Kansas City, a smaller market than Cleveland, Cal Ripken in Baltimore, Derek Jeter, moving nimbly despite the Brinks truck strapped to his back in New York -– stayed with one team for their entire careers.
A nice man with a simple approach to life, Thome was in the shadow of either Belle or Ramirez much of the time he was here. He was never a great leader, except as a leader in bashing in an era –- although I firmly believe Thome was absolutely clean – of pharmaceutical-enhanced bashers.
While preaching self-sacrifice, he yet managed contractual self-indulgence, or at least indulgence of those close to him, and lacked the resolve to carve out his own path. He was offered his name on the left field home run porch, a lifetime job with the team and the chance to be a second franchise icon for life. It was not enough.
The statue could have gone to another player who was one of the best, not only of his era, but of any era, at his position—shortstop—which did not come down to playing batter (designated hitter, Thome’s role eventually.)
This other player was told he and the final pair of his 11 Gold Gloves awards, which he was to win elsewhere, were expendable in the grand, mission statement-fueled rebuilding project that was to begin.
The statue should have been of Omar Vizquel.
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