Saturday, August 04, 2007

*

Somebody, or something, supposedly tied Hank Aaron’s homerun record tonight. Who, or what, depends on how you view a few things.

If you view numbers, then Barry Bonds just tied the record and most likely will break it soon.

If you view actual performance, then Hank Aaron is still way out in front and will stay there until someone can hit 755 using what God gave them and not what comes in a bottle or out of a needle.

I saw a sign months ago, “Babe Ruth did it on hotdogs and beer.” Those were the most performance-enhancing drugs he ever used and, looking at him, he used them well.

There is something about an athletic event that demands all participants, in general, be evenly matched. When one (or more) start using gadgets or enhancement drugs, you have as much as conceded you can’t do what you want with your own abilities.

With every such “record,” we should have an asterisk, with an explanation at the bottom of the page explaining what the person felt justified doing in order to make this status. Then the fans can decide for themselves if the player is really worthy of the adulation that usually comes with such an achievement.

2 Comments:

Anonymous mjrbaseball said...

There is something about an athletic event that demands all participants, in general, be evenly matched.

Not necessarily true. An athletic event demands that the competitors be given equal and fair opportunities. If one player or team is faster, stronger, more agile, then they have an advantage and will most likely win. But as long as all competitors play within the rules, no one will complain that it is unfair.

Hence the rub with Bonds: While his alleged actions may be unethical and immoral, there were no rules prohibiting such substances. (There are now, but no one is saying that he is still using.)

That isn't to say that I respect Bonds's record. But I accept it as legitmate, however hollow. As you said, Ruth did it on hot dogs and beer, but I wouldn't recommend that to Little Leaguers, either. And Aaron had to endure the daily delivery of racist death threats, which makes his accomplishment even more significant.

I believe you and I discussed this once before. You asked me why some forms of apparent "cheating" were allowed in baseball, while others weren't. For example, no one objects to the fact that a runner on second base will try to get a look at the signs the catcher is giving the pitcher - after all, he is in perfect line to see them. In such a situation, the pitcher and catcher switch or camouflage their signals. It *is* objectionable when a team staff member hides inside the center-field scoreboard with binoculars, for example, for the same purpose of stealing signs. The difference is in fairness of opportunity: both teams have the chance to put a runner on second, if they can; but hiding in the scoreboard is something only the home team can achieve, and is therefore unfair.

One final point of irony: The pitcher who served up Bonds's record-tying home run was one of a handful of players who last year was suspended for a half-season for steroid use in the minor leagues (where there *is* a rule prohibiting them).

August 06, 2007 10:23 PM  
Blogger Tom Carten said...

Hence the rub with Bonds: While his alleged actions may be unethical and immoral, there were no rules prohibiting such substances. (There are now, but no one is saying that he is still using.)

Did not know that.


That isn't to say that I respect Bonds's record. But I accept it as legitmate, however hollow.

I accept it as hollow and *'able, as Hank Aaron did not use those substances. But someone will come along and do it on their own and the "*" will be erased.

I finally see your point about the center field thing in the Series; it just took me a while.

August 07, 2007 3:27 PM  

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