Owens and Thome: Comparable Situations?  

Monday, March 20, 2006

Another rare sports post. This is, however, something that everyone should think about.

This morning's radio commentary that occurred while I was going through my morning routine yielded an interesting attempt at a parallel: Terrell Owens and Jim Thome.

The idea was that Owens may have a great year next season with his new team, the Dallas Cowboys, and it seems that Thome is doing quite well back in Chicago with his new team, the White Sox. I'm calling bullshit right now.

These situations are not in any way comparable. First of all, the future is uncertain regardless of the situation. You just never know what is going to actually happen. Yet the only parallel that can be drawn is that each of these two athletes has made some contributions to his respective game.

Owens played the role of crybaby quite well this past season. Suspended for being a loudmouthed asshole, he lost the respect of Eagles fans in a big hurry. Later, he shot his mouth off in a disrespectful fashion about Eagles quarterback Donovan MacNabb. Not that MacNabb handled that very well. He lost a lot of the respect I had for him by trying to play the "race card", but despite being seriously overrated, he is still a fan favorite, and Owens's comment did nothing but solidify his chances of being sent packing by the Eagles. Most Eagles fans are probably happy he wound up where he did. He turned himself into an enemy of Philadelphia football fans with his unprofessional attitude, and now he's playing for Dallas, the most reviled team in the eyes of Eagles fans. In summary, no one in Philly was at all disappointed in Terrell Owens's departure.

Thome is another story entirely. Jim was a stand-up guy right up to the very end, and was loved by Philly fans from the first day to the last. The Phillies simply had no choice. Thome spent a lot of time on the disabled list, and the kid that replaced him won the Rookie of the Year Award. There is no designated hitter in the National League, so an expensive deserving veteran like Thome would wind up platooning with someone who had rightly earned a full-time position on the team. If you're the Phils, you have this choice: Fan-favorite veteran with recent extended stays on the disabled list, or recent Rookie of the Year who has just proven himself to be the future of the team. One of these guys has to be traded to make room for the other. What choice do you make?

I haven't looked at this year's schedule, but I can definitely tell you that when Owens takes the field at "the Linc" this year, he will be appropriately booed by Eagles fans, and I wouldn't be surprised to find him facing more sinister means of fans showing how they feel, such as trash being thrown at him. Expect the fans to cheer especially loudly when Owens is taken down with a hard tackle, and expect them to boo especially so if he scores a touchdown. Philadelphia sports fans are a passionate lot, and his antics from last season will not soon be forgotten. On the other hand, if the White Sox make their way to Citizens Bank Park, expect Thome to receive a standing ovation at some point, and maybe even a few posters and signs with "Thanks, Jim" and the like. If Thome hits a home run, he will be applauded, even though he represents the opposition.

Philadelphia sports fans have not forgotten the contributions, either positive or negative, that these two athletes have made to Philadelphia sports teams. The big difference: Thome will be missed. Owens will not.