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My Take On The Home Run Record

Posted by cann0nba11 on July 28, 2007

I love baseball. Really. Even more so now that I have a son that loves to watch with me. Baseball is America’s favorite past-time. It’s the great game. It’s played in a park (thanks Mr. Carlin). The boys of summer play with a bat and ball. In the grand scheme of life, baseball is merely a diversion.

The claim that Barry Bonds is tarnishing the great game by breaking one of the most hallowed records in all of sports is, in my humble opinion, a bunch of crap.

The main gripe that most people have is that Barry cheated. Oooooh… someone in sports tried to get an edge? Let me see, in my 35 or so years as a sports fan I can think of a few occasions where cheating has occurred before:

  • Bucky friggin’ Dent hit a season-ending homerun over the Green Monster in game 163 of 1978 with a corked bat. He had five home runs all season. In more recent years the great Sammy Sosa was caught with a corked bat.
  • On the other side of the plate, pitchers are just as guilty. Gaylord Perry and Joe Niekro were notorious for doctoring the ball to get an edge over batters.

Even Arnold Schwarzen… whatever, the Governor of California, admits to using steroids in the 1970s to craft his body into a perfect body-building specimen and winning many titles, much to the chagrin of Lou Ferrigno (better know as tv’s Hulk). Ben Johnson, Rosie Ruiz, Eastern Europeans and Russians, cyclists, weightlifters, figure skaters, corrupt referees and more. The list goes on. Cheating is a part of sports. Sad, but true, cheating is a reality in all of life, not just the games that we watch for fun. I’m not endorsing cheating, I’m simply pointing out reality to those who choose to deny it.

Barry Bonds probably used steroids. Why? To get stronger, to recover faster from injuries. But steroids does nothing to help you hit a round ball with a round bat. Steroids may actually hurt your swing, they may diminish a batters ability to move quickly to adjust to a pitch. Perhaps extra strength turned some fly balls into home runs, but the bottom line is that Barry scares the hell out of major league pitchers. What truly amazes me about Bonds is that he has managed to get this far despite the fact that most pitchers won’t even give the guy any pitches to hit. I find it interesting that when you talk to baseball players it is widely understood that pitchers are the more frequent offenders when it comes to steroids.

Another factoid: If Bonds had the same walks per at-bat ratio as Hank Aaron did, Bonds would have had about 1400 more at-bats by now. That’s more than two full seasons of at bats. Pitchers back in the day had the balls to take on the big hitters. And they didn’t have middle-relief, late-relief and closers waiting in the bullpen. Pitchers used to not worry about pitch counts; they worried about finishing games.

Let’s look at some stats comparing Aaron to Bonds:

  • At Bats Per Season: Aaron 607 / Bonds 536
  • Career Bases on Balls: Aaron 1,402 / Bonds 2,530
  • Hits Per Season: Aaron 185 / Bonds 160
  • Career Strikeouts: Aaron 1,383 / Bonds 1,527
  • Career Batting Average: Aaron .305 / Bonds .298
  • Career Total At Bats: Aaron 12,364 / Bonds 9,749
  • Seasons played: Aaron 22 / Bonds 23

The big ones that stick out to me is are total at bats and total bases on balls. Bonds has reached the record in a significantly few number of at bats while having fewer opportunities to hit the damned ball in the first place.

So what’s the problem? I was going to make this essay all about the ill effects caused by absurd multi-bajillion dollar salaries that players are competing for. But then I remembered that baseball players have been cheating since the game first started. Men do what they can to win. A fight is a fight. Don’t fight fair, fight to win. Yes, personal fortunes are at stake, and simply making the major leagues can be enough to set someone up for life, at the end of the day athletes are competitive by nature and they want to win.

Barry wants to win. He can hit the ball too, perhaps better than anyone else ever has. I look forward to seeing him break the record. I just wonder how many steroid-juiced fastballs he has sent out of the park. And I wonder how many homers he would really have if pitchers today had the gonads to let him have a fair amount of at-bats like the rest of the players.

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