Tuesday, July 27, 2010


A Rod's Lonely Home Run Derby

A Rod’s Lonely Home Run Derby

Within the week, New York Yankees’ third baseman Alex Rodriguez will likely hit his six hundredth home run to join an exclusive club. Only six other players have managed to hit that many home runs in their careers.

Barry Bonds leads the list with 762 home runs. Hank Aaron had 755, a record which held up for many years. The others on that list are: Babe Ruth-714, Willie Mays-660, Ken Griffey Junior-630, and Sammy Sosa-609.

Under normal circumstances, there would likely be significant hype surrounding A-Rod’s impending success; however, there is an underlying current of distrust as to the legitimacy of his numbers. To put it bluntly, Rodriguez has admitted to using “performance enhancing substances”. As a result, for most baseball fans, there will always be an asterisk beside his name on the list, indicating that his numbers are tainted.

Alex is not the only culprit on the list. Evidence suggests that the current record holder, Barry Bonds, may also have been using substances to enhance his output. Other players who have been linked to substances include: Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Manny Ramirez.

At one time, any player who had hit 500 home runs was virtually assured of a place in the Baseball Hall of Fame. At this time, McGwire is the only currently eligible player not elected to the Hall. To become eligible, a player must be retired for at least five years, or deceased for at last six months. Therefore, the nine living players who have more than 500 home runs are not yet eligible, because they have not been retired for five years.

Because McGwire was passed over again this year for entry into the Hall of Fame, many baseball pundits believe that the voters have been establishing guidelines as to how they will treat players from the “Steroid Era”. Not all players will be painted with the same brush. Baseball has been screening players very carefully for the past few years in an attempt to punish the cheaters.

In a nutshell, for Mr. Rodriguez and those of his ilk, the bloom is off the rose. They will be very wealthy for the rest of their lives. They will have opportunities to show off their championship rings. They will be respected and admired in their own circles.

But to the rest of us baseball fans, for the most part, they will be tolerated, and most likely ignored. Their attempts to be the best, to be the greatest, have been tainted by a substance-enhancing scandal. They knew exactly what they were doing. They knew the consequences. They were willing to take the chance of being caught. And now they will have to await judgement from the powers that be.

I suggest that their chances of making it into the Hall of Fame are slim, slim, and none. They will be judged by their peers for what they are. There will be weeping, and gnashing of teeth. But I believe that is the way the cookie will crumble.

Good luck this week in Cleveland, Alex.

In the meantime, I will be watching the Jays and the Orioles.

James Hurst
July 26, 2010

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