This has been a season of unlikely occurrences. From the Indians being in first the majority of the season, to Asdrubal Cabrera leading the team in every major offensive category and the pitching staff being among the best in the league, who could have seen any of this coming. To top it all off, we are a few mere hours from the most likely of events in the 2011 season for the Cleveland Indians… The return of Jim Thome.
Yes, the same Jim Thome that so many years ago was regularly being penciled into the clean up spot for the Indians as they made run after run to the playoffs and world series. The same Jim Thome that left the Indians after the 2002 season as the team’s all-time leader in home runs and walks and also set single season records for home runs (52 in 2002). The same Jim Thome that once said someone would have to tear his Indians off of his back and then turned around and signed a massive six-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. People were angry, but he was just another name on a long list of individuals that would leave Cleveland in emotional shambles.
But that was a long time ago. All of the links to the past are gone. There is a new philosophy and method to running this organization since the days of Jim Thome/Manny Ramirez/Albert Belle etc. With that passage of time one has to hope that the wounds have finally healed. I know mine have. As I explained when Thome hit his 600th home run two weeks ago, he wouldn’t be an Indians now even if he had signed with them back in 2002. He would have been another in the long list of players traded away for prospects and potential. Why continue to hold against him a decision any of us would have made?
So tonight, for the first time in 9 years, Jim Thome will be announced and walk his way to home plate at Progressive Field and perform the same pre at bat ritual he’s performed thousands of time before, the same routine myself and hundred of other kids have imitated over the years. Hopefully he gets cheered. After all the decision to come back to Cleveland was up to him. He could have declined the trade, but he didn’t. Sure he’s 40 now and this is a desperate act by a desperate team, but you can’t help but like the story… at least if you have a heart or a soul. I think it’s cool. I wish I could go to the game tonight, but again I have that issue of the fact I live in Louisiana to deal with.
I expect Thome to get a standing ovation. Hopefully he does something great in response. Admittedly, I think we can expect anything but greatness at this point, but why not hope for it? The Indians may be dead in the water at this point with almost half of the roster on the DL, but they’ve given us something new to be excited about. Sure this may not be our year the way we were thinking it could be, but it sure as hell will be a memorable one.
Jim Thome back in an Indians uniform… who woulda thunk it?