SOX FANS: DON’T FORGET BIG FRANK
No, do not forget Big Frank. Without his contributions this year, Sox fans would likely be watching the Indians playing the Angels right now. Big Frank crushed 12 homers in only 105 ABs. In the 34 games he played this year the Sox were 24-10. That’s winning at a .705 clip. The Sox were not the same team without him after the ASB. They obviously missed his big bat and they floated around .500 throughout the 2nd half.
It’s interesting that not too long ago Sammy Sosa was considered the man, the king of Chicago. Thomas was the city’s malcontent, a baby, a bad teammate and much more. Some of the labels were due to his own actions. But now here we are in 2005. After Frank Thomas admirably and honestly answered questions in front of congress, it was evident there was quite a shift in the opinions on him and his place in Chicago baseball history. Whereas Sammy was the man for so long, Thomas was a second thought in Chicago. Now Sosa is a dirty word. Sosa was run out of town. Perhaps as the years go by the recent memories of Sosa will fade. But bring up Sosa now and you won’t hear people talk about ’98 or any of his other heroics. The conversation will encompass alleged steroid use, corked bats, selfishness, walking out on his teammates and his rapid decline in production.
Sosa, it turns out, is the epitome of what a lot of fans thought about Big Frank. But now here we are in 2005. It’s flipped. Furthermore, Tony La Russa can’t answer a simple question about Mark McGwire without breaking a fungo bat. Rafael Palmeiro is a joke, but surely not a funny one. So many players from his era are tainted. Bonds. Giambi. But Big Frank, perhaps the best right-handed hitter since 1990, never got the acclaim he deserved nationally or even here in Chicago. People who don’t think Frank is a certain Hall of Famer should be considered unable to posit a meaningful thought on the game. And his contributions this year helped the Sox to get where they are now, just 2 wins away from the World Series.
The memories of Sosa’s misdoings may fade over time. Or they may increase. We don’t know how it will all play out as much has yet to be revealed about this era of players. But I think it is a certainty that when we look back in 20 or so years, we will say Frank Thomas was one of the game’s best hitters ever. I’ll say it now.