Last night the Minnesota Twins' Jim Thome hit his 600th career home run in a 9-6 win over the Detroit Tigers, becoming the 8th player in the history of the game to accomplish such a feat. As I look at the 8 players in the 600 club I begin to wonder if the club is tainted. Sure, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Babe Ruth did it the good old fashion way. The Babe did it on beer, hot dogs and cigars so if those are considered PEDs then I guess we can bring his homers into question. The other 5 players on the list I'm not so sure about.
Barry Bonds, who is the current home run king definitely used some steroids to help get him there. Now I know that hasn't been proven yet but c'mon seriously? The guy had to have been juicing for most of his career in San Fransisco. I also believe he will never make the Hall of Fame because of it.
Ken Griffey Jr. is the next guy I want to talk about. This guy was my childhood hero. I loved watching him play for the Mariners and was happy that he had such a great career. Now I do believe that Jr. never did take the juice and most likely joined the 600 club on his natural talent and strength. It worries me that he played in the heart of the steroid era and makes me skeptical but his constant injuries help me think he stayed clean.I hope he does make the Hall and I am pretty sure that he will.
Next is Sammy Sosa. It's safe to say that he helped save the game of Baseball at the turn of the millennium but I am also under the impression that he didn't do it naturally. In 1997 Sosa hit 36 home runs, the next year he hit 66 and then didn't hit less than 50 until 2002 when he hit 49. How do you naturally begin to double your average home runs hit a year? The answer is you don't.
Alex Rodriguez is the next on the list and in my opinion the next home run king. He still has enough time left in his career (if he stays healthy) to surpass Barry Bonds' home run record. Unfortunately he will be another tainted king as he has admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. His admittance might give him penance and an eventual acceptance into the Hall but only time will tell.
Finally we have Jim Thome. He has had a great career and should have solidified his ticket into the Hall last night with his 600th bomb. i only hope the PED conversation doesn't come up with his name attached. He played most of his career in the heart of the steroid era and has always been a heavy hitter. I personally haven't heard his name come up in the performance enhancing drug conversations and I hope it stays that way. The game needs clean players to continue to pursue records and milestones in order to dilute the nasty taste the steroid era has left on the game.
Don't get me wrong. I understand it is incredibly hard to hit a home run off of a major league pitcher. It takes great skill in eye-hand coordination. Not every home run hit by a guy using PED's is in direct correlation to using those drugs. But, how many of those home runs might have just ended up a deep fly ball to center? No one will ever be able to know the answer to that question and I strongly believe that every player admitted or who has tested positive and denied using PED's or HGH gets a big fat * on their career stats. I only hope the next player to hit the 600 home run club does it the old fashion way.