Before the season comes to a conclusion Jim Thome will likely become the 23rd member of the 500 club. He would also be the third player to reach that home run milestone this season and those two facts will have contrasting effects on his Hall of Fame candidacy. On the one hand Thome has been a platinum level power hitter for more than a decade and he's racked up impressive numbers as a result. On the other hand, though, he's hardly someone that comes to mind as a defining player of his generation. Frank Thomas, one of the other 500 guys this year, was a better hitter when Thome first broke into the league and Mark McGwire was considered the standard bearer for power hitting first basemen. As Thome's career wound down you had Albert Pujols setting the pace at the position. When he was with Cleveland Thome was never the most dangerous player in the lineup, he complemented Albert Belle, Matt Williams, Manny Ramirez, David Justice and Robby Alomar at different moments in his Indian tenure and the Phillies couldn't wait to dump him when Ryan Howard was ready. Ultimately, Thome never stood out in an era of inflated power numbers and as fine a career as he may have had it doesn't quite measure up to the Cooperstown elite. His 499th home run did help the Sox beat his former club from Cleveland 7-4 on Wednesday however.
- If the Tampa Bay Devil Rays were a halfway decent team the Red Sox might be entering this weekend's series with the Yankees in position to lose their division lead. But they aren't and the Red Sox snatched victory from the jaws of defeat for the second straight night. On Tuesday the overly generous pitching staff couldn't stop giving up runs until the Rays turned a seven-run lead into a 16-10 loss. Wednesday saw more of the same generosity, the Rays led 4-0 after the top of the first, matched by Delmon Young butchering a David Ortiz fly ball with the skill of a seasoned meat slicer. The ball floated into the short porch of Fenway's rightfield for a 5-4 Boston win.
- The dance goes on in the central. Sean Hill allowed three hits over seven innings and Ryan Dempster held on through a treacherous ninth inning for a 3-2 win in Houston. That brought them back into a first place tie with the Brewers because Milwaukee couldn't handle the Pirates. They climbed back from 4-0 down to tie the game in the top of the eighth before, in true Central Division style, giving up three runs in the bottom of the inning for a 7-4 loss. Doesn't this whole mess seem destined to end in a one-game playoff that ends on a dropped third strike, two throwing errors and a missed tag for a 23-22 win?
- The only thing that could match such a playoff game for the wretched depths of futility would be some sort of round robin for the Wild Card. The Padres fell 6-1 to the Dodgers last night and the Rockies crushed the Phillies 12-0 which means that the Friars hold a two and a half game lead on the other three clubs for the last playoff spot. Mathematics probably precludes all four ending up with the same record but in this National League season anything seems possible.
(AP Photo/Brian Kersey)