September 21 - Hurting for the MVP
“Don't get me wrong, he's a great player but he's got a lot of guys in that lineup. Top to bottom, you've
got a guy who can hurt you. Come hit in this lineup, see how good you can be.”
I'm not thinking about the MVP right now. We're thinking about winning a division. We've still got
something to play for.
All week long, the only commentary I have read from various sports pundits in
regards to the race for AL MVP revolves around Derek Jeter and David Ortiz.
However, before we coronate another Yankee or Red Sox with the award, let me
be so bold as to insert one more name into the argument. It is a name that you
all once knew. It is a renaissance that is happening in an often-overlooked town
on a classic baseball franchise. His name is Frank Thomas and he has once
again become “The Big Hurt”.
Quick………what are the three biggest questions in terms of deciding the
baseball MVP award? In my humble opinion it has always been:
1. Is your team headed for the postseason?
2. What did you do for your team down the stretch?
3. How good your team be if you were removed from the roster?
If these are the guidelines from which an MVP is won, I offer that Frank Thomas deserves as much
mention as any East Coast player. The Oakland Athletics are not only headed for a postseason berth
but probably stand as the most formidable opposition to a Yankees-Mets Subway Series (a World
Series that will draw as much ratings interest as a rerun of “How I Met Your Mother”). The Oakland
Athletics have been drilling their opposition for the past two months and Thomas has been at the
center of it. This past weekend was the clearest sign that this year’s Oakland A’s are for real, as they
basically eliminated the defending World Series Champion Chicago White Sox from playoff
contention. They did so because “The Big Hurt” wouldn’t let his new team lose.
His new team…….I think I speak for all Oakland A’s fans when I viewed the Thomas signing with
limited expectations. I was hoping for twenty-something homers and eighty-something RBI’s over a
hundred games. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he would be walking into the upcoming
postseason as the most feared middle of the order presence in the American League. Watching
Frank Thomas play this season has made me feel a sense of regret for not having paid more
attention when he was lighting up the scoreboard in Chicago. I have already started taping his
games in Oakland, just in case I have a son who is right-handed. The reason being that I want to be
able show him one of the purest right-handed swings the game of baseball has ever seen.
Ten Home Runs and twenty-six RBI’s already in the month of September.
These power numbers have been complimented by .344 BA and a .379
OBP. There’s coming up big down the stretch and then there are the
numbers Thomas has thrown on the board. To watch the A’s play is to
know that the impact Frank Thomas is having on the stretch run goes even
deeper than those spectacular numbers. Every single time he comes up to
the plate there is an anticipation of something great happening. It’s an
edge. A cockiness. A Hall of Fame flair that has caused opposing pitchers
knees to buckle and their collars to tighten. It is clutch three-run homers
that have been sinking enemy ships. It is the fact that Thomas has
single-handedly reversed Oakland’s usual September stumbles and has
the A’s humming towards October.
If you took Derek Jeter off of the New York Yankees, aren’t the Yankees still a playoff team? Maybe it’s
a slightly tougher race, but without Jeter the Yankees would still win the AL East. With or without
David Ortiz, the Boston Red Sox are playing golf in October. I’ll submit that Justin Morneau or Joe
Mauer departing the Minnesota lineup would probably leave the Twins out in the cold, however since
it’s not clear who is the MVP of their own lineup then it can’t be clear which one should be MVP of the
entire American league. Frank Thomas wins this category hands down over every other MVP
candidate. If you took Frank Thomas’ .281 BA, .391 OBP, 38 homers and 105 RBI’s (in only 126
games) out of the A’s lineup they are at best locked in a dead heat with the Anaheim Angels, if not
completely out in the cold.
A fellow writer once astutely compared Derek Jeter to “KellyPomPoms”. I liked that comparison as
Derek Jeter is similar to the prom queen at the height of her popularity. However, there was always
one girl I preferred and her name is “JamieOldSchool”. “JamieOldSchool” was the hottie who went
away to college and came back the summer after with an extra twenty pounds on her. Then she
started dating some loser guy and her entire appeal went away. Two years would pass and then one
day you'd be sitting with a buddy at the bar and she would walk in. The poundage and loser boyfriend
had been lost and a new personality emerged to complement the beauty that was left inside her.
Maybe the ending in Chicago wasn't what Frank Thomas expected, however the new beginning in
Oakland is more than we ever could have dreamed.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com.