Why? I mean, if anything, I should be holding a grudge. During his years with the Indians and White Sox, he was a nasty nemesis. In fact, he pretty much owned the Twins (.311 avg/ .410 obp/ .628 slg). Oh, and don't even get me started on the 2008 Game 163 -- that alone should make me hate him forever. So, why was I so quick to embrace him as one of my favorite Twins? Let's explore:
- As a good Twins fan, I hate* all White Sox (and Yankee, for that matter) players. It's almost required for entry into Twins Territory. But there's always one guy on a hated team, one guy who is good and doesn't really do anything hate-worthy, that fans secretly wish was on their team. Jim Thome was that guy.
- He's always had that "oh no" factor. He steps into the box, and opposing pitchers think "oh no, not Thome." Whenever he's at the plate, there's a good chance he can do some damage. That kind of intimidation is a good thing to have with your favorite team on the front of his jersey -- just ask Matt Thornton.
- While I tend to be more of a pitching girl (usually I dig the perfectly located curve ball for a strike over a home run), I gotta say his home runs are magnificent. Flag poles, walk offs, concourse shots, oh my. Is it getting hot in here?
- Chalk one up for the old guys. He'll be 41 in August. Longevity is sexy.
- I've heard -- ok, we've all heard -- that he's a nice guy. No, I mean he must be a really nice guy. He's always voted in the top three as the Nicest Guy in Baseball as voted by players. And he always seems to be willing to be interviewed. It's true, nice guys finish first.
- I just know it would be fun to sit down with him and let him tell baseball stories. He must have a million hilarious stories of pranks, antics, and other goofiness just busting to come out. I can't figure out if he's a beer-drinking man or the type that never touches the stuff, so I'd love to take him out for pie and talk baseball. Or, if he's up to it, pie and beer.
- He seems to like us Twins fans as much we like him.
*To be clear, I don't really hate people; I only really hate things, like sneezing, lima beans, midnight leg cramps, and maybe the rabbits who eat my flowers. I have intense rival disdain for members of the White Sox; it's nothing personal. With that being said, there are a number of White Sox players who make me crinkle my nose and hiss whenever I read about them or see them on TV.