Paul Konerko launched the 400th home run of his career Wednesday, it came in dramatic fashion to tie the game in the 9th. and moved him into sole possession of 48th place all-time. Clearly he's better than Andres Galarraga now. Arguing that he's now better than Al Kaline...that'd probably take some more creativity.
Konerko celebrated the feat in his typical fashion:
"Everybody likes the round numbers, but when it comes to that kind of stuff, when I'm done playing and look back, that's when it might hit home more," Konerko said. "But when you are ... grinding every day and working, you tend not to think about that stuff and you probably shouldn't."
Which is to say that he didn't seem to at all.
It was Konerko's 4th homer of the season, and if you just fire up espn.com and look at what the "projected" home run total is, Paulie's on pace for 36 bombs on the season. That would put him in line to overtake Cal Ripken Jr. in 2012, and be a pretty remarkable feat for a guy who was just hitting his 300th this time 3 years ago.
But if we take a more reasonable tact like J.J.--who reasoned that if Konerko hits 25 more this season and 25 more each of the next three seasons he'd have 500 for his career--that would mean he's only due to overtake Duke Snider and Darrell Evans before the year is out.
At this point and time, while Konerko's late career-renaissance is gaining him more national appreciation, he's not considered to be a possible Hall of Famer. Which he shouldn't be. His bat is the only extra value he brings, off years in 2003, 2008, and 2009 marred his prime, and he's only enjoyed truly elite status recently.
Which brings the question of how much longer Konerko can, or cares to keep this up. For reasons beyond his control, the 400 HR plateau didn't survive the 90's offensive boom with its credibility as a major credential intact, and the non-Hall of Fame names of Dave Kingman, Juan Gonzalez, and Fred McGriff still resting well above Konerko on the HR list testify to that.
Not every accomplishment by an old guy has to devolve completely into a Hall of Fame discussion, though. Everything else aside, #400 is just a testament to a hitter who has done remarkable work in perfecting his approach, accounting for his limitations and becoming as good of a fastball hitter as anyone in the league at an age when most are lucky to still be touching them at all.
There's been a lot of time spent in awe this past week of White Sox baseball...in the good way.