Welcome to the dog days of August. Congrats to those Quincy parents who survived another summer and are shuffling your kids back to school today. It’s an all-baseball edition of the Mid-Week grades. WGEM SportsCenter host Josh Houchins and I will break these down around 8:20 on Wednesday’s program. Be sure to listen in. You can submit your own grade at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the text line at (217) 617-9437:
A — Jim Thome. Even though he played at Limestone — a rival of the Galesburg High School baseball team back in the late 1980s — I’ve always liked Thome. I met him once back at Marty’s Bar in Charleston, Ill., in the early 1990s through a buddy of his that was on the EIU baseball team. Thome’s been a class act during his time in the big leagues. Now that A-Fraud has passed the 600-homer mark, Thome’s next on the list. He’s sitting an 580 thanks to 16 homers this season and has a chance to pad that total over the next few days against one of his old teams — the Chicago White Sox. And he’s no LeBron. He’s looking forward to beating his buddies instead of playing with them. He had a chance to go back to Chicago during the off-season, but opted for the Twins. Thome’s having a blast in Minnesota, which is getting a lot of bang for their buck out of him. Here’s to hoping he makes it to 600 homers and beyond.
B — Bryan Bullington. His first major-league victory Sunday over the Yankees — a game in which he threw eight shutout innings and struck out five – isn’t going to make up for the fact the former Quincy Gems player had little business being the No. 1 overall pick by the Pirates in the 2002 draft. (Also in that draft: No. 2 B.J. Upton, Rays; No. 6 Zack Grienke, Royals; No. 7 Prince Fielder, Brewers; No. 16 Nick Swisher, A’s; No. 17 Cole Hamels, Phillies; No. 19 James Loney, Dodgers; No. 24 Joe Blanton, A’s; No. 25 Matt Cain, Giants to name a few.) Unless Bullington, who is nearing 30 years old, can somehow jumpstart his career, he’s going to be looked at as one of the bigger draft busts with the top pick. For a day though, he took down the defending World Champions, and a day after Alex Rodriguez slugged three homers in a day. Not too bad.
C — Orlando Cabrera. The Reds shortstop found an interesting way to bide his time while on the disabled list. He spent part of Sunday’s game serving as the Reds’ bat boy. Cabrera did everything a bat boy’s supposed to do and even wore the uniform with the “BB” on the back. He only lasted four innings, but that’s four innings more than a lot of big leaguers would do it. He’s eligible to come off the disabled list today, so he’s days as the highest-paid bat boy in baseball are over.
D — Jose Canseco. Baseball’s steroid whistleblower is back. A team in the United League — the Laredo Broncos — signed Canseco to a contract where he would serve as a coach and a designated hitter. In his first game with the team on Monday night, he wound up hitting a home run. Guess, he’s back “playing” as part of another reality show. He may have been right about all of the steroid use in baseball, but I’d like for Canseco to just go away.
F — Francisco Rodriguez. This guy could be up for Slap of the Year honors. First, he gets into a fight with his girlfriend and then slugs her dad. He was arrested for the assault. Turns out that he injured his hand during the incident and needs season-ending surgery on his right thumb. The Mets are going to try to get their money back from him, but it’s not going to be easy. Any hopes the Mets had of making the postseason are gone with their all-star closer.