Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Give the Man an Asterisk

Avid baseball fans need not read Jose Canseco's new book to realize that there is a major steroid problem in major league baseball. Players like Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, and Barry Bonds have recently performed at levels never-before-seen in major league baseball history. Across the league, balls are leaving the park in record fashion.

For some perspective on the matter, let's compare 1990 with 2000. In 1990, Detroit's Cecil Fielder made major headlines by cracking 51 home runs. As a team, the Tigers led the major leagues with 172 home runs. All teams combined for 3,317 home runs that year, or 128 per team.

In the late 1990's, players like Sosa and McGwire were routinely breaking the 50 home run barrier, and both managed to best Roger Maris' previous all-time record of 61 homers in a season. In 2000, 21 teams finished with more than 172 home runs. All teams combined for 5693 home runs, or 190 per team! This is nearly a 50% increase in home runs between 1990 and 2000.

Can there be any doubt that performance enhancing drugs are rampant in major league baseball? For further evidence, let's take a closer look at Mark McGwire's career. Between 1991 and 1996, McGwire was never healthy enough to manage 500 at bats. Year after year was shortened by nagging injuries. But in the years 1997, 1998, and 1999, McGwire managed > 500 at bats every year. His home run totals those years? 58, 70, and 65 which represent 3 of the top 12 single seasons of all time! In fact, the top 6 single season home run totals were all recorded in the years between 1998 and 2001. In 2001, Luis Gonzales, who had averaged 16 home runs in 10 previous major league seasons, hit 57 home runs!

In what may be the biggest travesty of this scandal, Barry Bonds is approaching Hank Aaron's all time home run record. In Bonds' first 12 seasons, he averaged 31 home runs. In his most recent 4 years, (years 16 - 19 of his career), he's averaged over 52!

Yesterday Bonds spoke to the media for the first time since the release of Canseco's book, and Bonds was as surly and combative as ever. Asked whether records broken by players who've abused steroids should have an asterisk next to them, Bonds replied “All of you guys have lied, should you have an asterisk behind your name? ... Yeah, I lied to my parents when I was growing up. Lied to my friends. Have I lied about baseball? Yeah, I told a couple of stories that I hit a couple of balls places that I really didn’t.”

This was indeed a pathetic display, watching Bonds trying to discredit reporters' integrity in the hopes of justifying his own behavior. Furthermore, watching Bonds take comfort in the fact that he's always been a liar, so violating baseball's substance abuse policy is no big deal, is indeed sickening to this life long baseball fan.

To top this off, Bonds once again played the race card, crying poor victim in his press conference Said Bonds: "Because Babe Ruth is one of the greatest baseball players ever, and Babe Ruth ain’t black, either,” he said. "I’m black. Blacks, we go through a little more. ... I’m not a racist though, but I live in the real world. I’m fine with that."

He sure doesn't sound "fine with that". Barry, how about providing some real evidence of how you've been the victim of racism? Otherwise, file away your race card with the rest of your pack of lies. On another note, Bonds should wake up to the fact that Hank Aaron holds the all time record, not Babe Ruth. We can only thank God that Aaron is black, otherwise we'd have to listen to Bonds cry "racism" for the rest of his life if he hits #756 and anybody questioned the legitimacy of his record.

Should Bonds break Aaron's record, let's hope the record shows:

  • *^Barry Bonds - 756
  • Hank Aaron - 755
  • Babe Ruth - 714

    * Achieved with the help of steroids.
    ^ Achieved with a huge racist chip on the shoulder.
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