July 14, 2012 03:11:22
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man
Since 1900, the game of baseball had undergone many changes. In 1909, Ty Cobb led the American League by hitting nine home runs. In 2001, Barry Bonds set the record by hitting 73 home runs. Before 1920, pitchers were allowed to doctor the baseball. After 1920, many new and legal pitches have been developed to help the pitcher get batters out. Some of these pitches were the screwball, slider, and the split-finger fastball. During the “lively ball era” of 1920 to 1930, batting .400 for a season was accomplished eight times. In 1968, the pitcher’s mound was lowered to help out the batters. Due to baseball expansion, many new teams and new stadiums have appeared. Some of the stadiums have led to great hitting achievements. Just look at the batting statistics at Coors Field, the home of the Colorado Rockies. The list of changes is endless.
The reason, for citing a few of the major changes in baseball is to set the stage for my argument. When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s home run record in 1961, due to the extra eight games in the season, many baseball people wanted an asterisk placed next to the new record of 61 home runs. Baseball executives decided not to do this which led to a debate for several years. Today, 61 home runs is no longer the record and no one is concerned about the asterisk.
Barry Bonds, an alleged steroid user, holds the new season home run record of 73. Many baseball people want an asterisk or worse yet the record ignored. Maybe 25 years from now a new player will break this record by hitting 80 home runs. After the record is broken, will anyone be concerned about the old record and how it was accomplished? My answer is no.
Before 1947, African Americans were not allowed in the Major Leagues. Should all records accomplished before 1947 have an asterisk next to them?
For those people, who favor the disallowing of records established by players who are confirmed users of performance enhancement drugs, I raise several questions. Suppose in the future some human enhancement drugs were legalized and baseball removed those drugs from their banned list. If the records of those players, that used the now legalized drugs, were removed from the record book what would we do now? What about those players that are just suspected of using these drugs? Do we disallow their records? What about those players who have used a drug which is banned after the player established the record? Do we disallow their records?
One can see that the disallowing of baseball records leads to a slippery slope.
On the other side of the argument, Hank Aaron, in statements made to the press, believes their records should count but an asterisk should appear behind the records.
My position is all baseball records must stand without any asterisk until broken. Of course, individuals can put their own asterisk alongside any record. Each person can decide for themselves which player deserves to be called the record holder.