Ok, I’m officially old. Two of the top players of my adolescence officially retired today. I remember Frank Thomas as a White Sox rookie and Tom Glavine as a struggling yet crafty lefty with the then moribund Atlanta Braves. Most Orioles fans will remember Thomas for owning Mike Mussina, including the game winning homer in Mussina’s MLB debut, a 1-0 loss to the White Sox. Neither Thomas nor Glavine played in 2009 and paired with Greg Maddux they figure to make up a monster Hall of Fame class four years from now. That doesn’t even account for other players approaching eligibility like Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell and a bevy of steroid tainted stars like Clemens, Bonds, Palmiero, etc.
Of course, no one is a shoo-in anymore. The ripple effect of the steroid era is that players like Thomas, aptly nicknamed The Big Hurt, may have their offensive accomplishments diminished by those of lesser players who were juicing. In Thomas’ defense he was essentially Albert Pujols before Albert Pujols. Thomas was an historic offensive talent, easily a top 1o right handed hitter of all time, and one of the few staunch critics of the cheaters and juicers who were tainting the game.