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The Big Hurt is about to hang 'em up

The Big Hurt is ready to face reality:

Frank Thomas said he's getting close to announcing his retirement, and the 41-year-old slugger said he's having fun being a member of the media. The Chicago White Sox's all-time leader in home runs, RBI and runs, finished last season with the Oakland A's and hasn't been picked up this season.

"That percent right now [that I'll play again] is probably about five percent, since we're so deep into the season now," Thomas said on ESPN 1000. "But I'm still in shape, ready to go, if anything happens. But I'm getting close to announcing my retirement because I just turned 41. I just want to make sure that it's the move I really want to make. I don't want to be one of those guys that keeps coming back and keeps saying, 'I'm unretiring, I'm coming back.' I want to make sure it's out of my system."

Well, sort of face reality. I think baseball has more or less taken care of the "retire/unretire" option for Thomas. Though he could still probably be useful on an AL team, no one wants him (unlike Griffey, who is probably less useful than Thomas, Thomas doesn't have a home where he can go and become a gate attraction), so the decision is pretty much out of his hands.

Thomas will be an interesting Hall of Fame case. He should be a lock on the numbers alone, but spending so much time at DH is gong to hurt him with some voters. It's less clear how the steroids era will effect him. On the one hand he was outspoken against PEDs and helped lead the charge to institute testing. And the media recognized him for that to some degree. On the other hand, there's a strong sense that all offensive statistics -- not just those of the PED users -- were inflated during Thomas' career, so people may discount his accomplishments even if they don't consider them to be illegitimate in and of themselves. That may be a little unfair and irrational, but if you don't think the BBWAA can be unfair and irrational, you're not very familiar with their work.

For what it's worth, he'd have my vote.