If you ask me, Jim Thome is exactly the kind of guy to whom Willy Wonka would have left his chocolate factory. (I also sometimes imagine Bob Costas as an Oompa Loompa). Think of baseball with no cattle steroids or corked bats or "You dead, dawg," or Human Growth Hormone or Jose Canseco book signings. Just guys like Thome rounding the bases, fist extended, while back at the paper Max Mercy is on the horn making inquiries about his background. Five hundred home runs; that's quite an accomplishment, kid. And on the day they distributed your bobblehead doll, no less. Roy Hobbs never had a bobblehead night.
Plus, Thome's homer had the disctinction of winning a game for the White Sox; breaking a 7-7 tie in the ninth for a walkoff 9-7 win over the Angels. Rookie second baseman Danny Richar had tied it with a two-run homer in the eighth, setting the stage for Thome, who was 0-for-11 since hitting his 499th homer on Wednesday. Other great stuff about the clout: As he rounded third, Thome slapped hands with base coach Razor Shines; the fact that the Sox have a coach named Razor Shines gives me great joy. Thome was then carried off the field by Jermaine Dye and Bobby Jenks — possibly the only two teammates strong enough to lift him — as the crowd cheered and refused to leave until chased out by security. Then, the fan who caught the ball met with Thome after the game and gave it back to him. Will Stewart, an accountant from Austin Texas, was given two season tickets by the team, which he then announced he would be donating to the charity of Thome's choice. But that's not all ... it is said that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen's heart grew three sizes that day. "The guy is special," Guillen told the Chicago Tribune. "He plays the game right, he respects the game, he respects the fans. I tell our young kids, 'You want to look up to somebody, that's the guy you look up to, on the field and off. He's a great man.' I don't think there's anyone in baseball who will say anything bad about Jim Thome. He's what we need in this game." And they all lived happily ever after. Oh, and the White Sox are still in last place (waa-waaaaa).
There's also a heartwarming feature on the White Sox home page about a "typical White Sox family" who have been brought closer together by attending games at Cellular Field. Click on the sixth item in the flash stage. Now look at the kid's forehead. Is that some sort of protest? Wasn't Iguchi traded in July? Will that wash off?
• Yankees, Red Sox Bid So Long, For Now. So the Red Sox hold a somewhat substantial 4 1/2 game lead over the Yankees in the East after losing to them, 4-3 on Sunday. But since New York officially won the season series, 10-8, Boston fans have to be a little concerned. Will the Sox be able to handle them if they meet in the playoffs? Hey, it's a legitimate concern. Derek Jeter's three-run homer off Curt Schilling broke an eighth-inning tie, and Marino Rivera got David Ortiz on a pop out with the bases loaded to end the game, as the Yankees beat the Red Sox for the sixth time in seven games. New York leads Detroit by 2 1/2 in the wild-card standings.
• Marquis Performance. Matt Murton had a three-run homer, and Jason Marquis threw a seven-inning one-hitter as the Cubs beat the Cardinals 4-2. The Brewers beat the Reds 5-2; leaving Milwaukee one game back in the Central.
• Jake The Giant Killer. If you're thinking of not voting for Jake Peavy for the NL Cy Young, then here, I'm afraid I shall slap you with this fish, sir. His ERA is 2.39, he leads the majors with 225 strikeouts and he won his 18th game, 5-1 over the Giants.