Jim Thome got his 400th career homer last night, but the few hundred who stayed behind last night to see if it would count had to wait until after 2 in the morning for the game to be "over." Sam Carchidi talks about the fans efforts to try and capture the "photographic keepsake." Jim Salisbury says that sitting Griffey was a "sound business decision," since now he'll be able to go for 500 in front of his home fans, as the Reds will no doubt sell lots of tickets to tonight's game. The Phillies had the largest crowd ever in Citizens Bank Park's young history last night. Carchidi gets a few fans to complain about Griffey's no-show, questioning the Reds' motives. "That's baseball now, it's all about money" lamented one fan. All the better, I suppose. This way, all the attention could be focused on hometown hero Thome. Mark Lelinwalla says Todd Stark, who bought tickets less than an hour before the opening pitch, is the lucky fan who caught the milestone homer. Stark was quickly escorted out of his section by security, and in exchange for the ball, received an autographed ball, bat, and picture with Thome. Paul Hagen says fans had to wait until nearly 4 hours after Thome's homer to find it if it would count. This was just plain ridiculous. The game should have been called after the second rain delay, once the game was official with five innings on the books. That only about 700 fans were left on hand by the time the game was officially ended at 2:06 has to be about the most fan-unfriendly decision the umpiring crew could have made. Hagen also wants to know why, if all Griffey Jr. worries about is winning (and not the "individual stats"), he sat last night. Mike Olshin has former teammate Sean Casey saying of Thome:
He's such a humble guy. Jim is going to finish with 500 or 600 homers, and when he gets there, he'll really appreciate it. It's awesome because he's not only a great hitter, but a great person too. I'm sure he's more embarrassed than anything else about the attention he's getting. He's probably wondering, "OK, when is this over, so we can go hunting?"Phil Jasner writes that the "pride of Coatesville", Rip Hamilton, had difficulty putting his trade to Detroit behind him, saying that Washington trading him away was "like when you break up with your first girlfriend." I wonder what the Wizards think of that move now, especially since Rip is about to get crowned "prom king"? Stephen A. Smith has several coaches saying nobody deserves an NBA title more than Larry Brown. Brown is on the verge of becoming the only coach ever to win both an NCAA and an NBA championship. John Smallwood references the Bill Plaschke article I referred to yesterday and adds his commentary:
Bryant's supreme belief in himself and his abilities has helped put his team on the brink of elimination. Bryant's greatest strength has become his and the Lakers' greatest weakness. He has shot poorly, yet refuses to sacrifice his individual game to do the one thing that has gone right for the Lakers. Bryant's unyielding drive to show that he is "the man" has all but ended Los Angeles' chances of winning a fourth title in five seasons.Mark Lelinwalla says the Flyers have signed Keith Primeau to a four-year deal for $17 million (first two years at $4.5 million, last two at $4 million). Primeau says "Philadelphia is where I wanted to be," which explains why he turned down the chance to become a free agent. Ed Moran says Primeau really must have wanted to be here, since he took a pay cut in order to stay (he was on the payroll for $5 million during the last two seasons). Adam Kimelman also has Captain Primeau still trying to convince Sami Kapanen not to retire and move his family back to Finland. Kapinen's "stance is beginning to soften," according to his close friend. Kimelman also submits his "last NHL column for the season." The upcoming 2004-05 season, that is. The one that, from everything he's hearing (including the Daily News report he mentions, that was referenced here last week, where the Flyers told their broadcast crews "not to hesitate to look for work elsewhere") won't happen.
Sam Donnellon wonders what idiots who are overly "aggressive" trying to catch a souvenir at baseball games are thinking, in reaction to the bozo who did so over the weekend at a Cardinals-Rangers game, the replay of which was shown all over the country. "If common sense and decency cannot motivate you, imagine what you look like to your co-workers if you're caught on television trampling on women and children."
Peter Vecsey sounds a bit tired of Phil Jackson's whining about the officiating in the Finals. "I got a technical just to prove a point. I don't think it worked. [Kobe's] first free throws were at the end of hte game," complained Coach Zen Master. Vecsey asks, "why should it work? Why should the refs be expected to bail out Kobe when he's upchucking so many sordid shots while falling away from the basket?"
CSN has the Tigers-Phillies at 7:05. OK, You have my permission to watch potential history-in-the-making with Lakers-Pistons, Game 5 of the NBA Finals, tonight at 9. Detroit is trying to clinch the title and become the first team to sweep the middle three games at home since the league switched to the 2-3-2 Finals format.