. . . and in one fell swoop, the Toronto Blue Jays have suddenly become the envy of Sox management past and present, from a Jerry Manuel who could never stay on speaking terms with the star slugger to the current general manager so infuriated by the departing DH’s bitter comments that he took his own rage all the way to SportsCenter.
With their cutting (“released by mutual agreement” is the press release language) of a badly slumping Frank Thomas, the natural question is not one of “why” but “how.” How did they get the same Thomas who, less than 24 hours prior, said he and the .167 average the Jays were paying him millions to hit were better than a bench role, to go along with being flat-out dropped from the team?
A lot of Sox fans are probably going to be up in arms about this. They’ll say he’s a legend and will agree he shouldn’t be treated this way by any team, especially after all he’s done. They’ll point to all the great numbers, the decade’s worth of fear he instilled in American League pitching, and the back-to-back MVP seasons (not to mention the third in 2000 that Jason Giambi and his home injection kit stole from #35).
But those people won’t be talking about the Frank Thomas who the Jays just released. They’ll be overlooking the guy who was a liability towards the end of his days with the Sox. They’ll forget how often he was hurt, how many managers and teammates couldn’t stand him, and the surgeries which had rendered him effectively immobile in the fields and on the basepaths.
More importantly, they’ll be talking about a player who hasn’t really existed for years now. It’s sad to see legends fade away, but all things come to and end – even multi-million dollar baseball deals still guaranteed through next season.
His was a great career, but that’s just it: it was. So remember it as it was, not as it ends, and don’t look for reasons to weep or bleed for a man who’s made millions playing a child’s game for a living anyway.