September 2006 – With Ryan Howard passing
‘s single season record of 61 homeruns, should we consider
the homerun champion? Many analysts have been discussing this question ever since
reached 50 homeruns. The arguments have been wide and varied, and some of the responses have been completely traditional and completely ground-breaking. It is amazing how heated these conversations get, and it all seems to be because there are two varying schools of thought; those who are being sensible, and those who are being extreme. You probably won’t believe which basic argument each school of thought is advocating, either.
School of Thought #1: The Sensible Approach
The sensible approach to this whole matter is that
should not be considered the regular season homerun champion without having passed Barry Bonds’s mark of 73 home runs. And that is certainly a reasonable suggestion. Afterall, Howard did not hit more than 73 home runs. Just because there is a diminutive cloud of speculation (okay, it’s more like a colossal thunderstorm) that he did steroids does not mean we can dismiss everything that Barry Bonds, and all the other people between him and Howard’s totals, have done. Let us just say that erasing Bonds’ homeruns from the record books was that easy. Do we change the E.R.A.’s of the pithers who he hit runs off of, do we remove the runs scored from the runners he batted in, and do we change the scores and results of games that were effected by Bonds’s big bat? Of course not. So we cannot erase everything from the record books, just because we believe that Bonds cheated and Howard did not. The fact of the matter is that we do not really know if Bonds used steroids, because if we did, we would not be arguing, all of this speculation would just be fact.
For those of you who claim that the argument is just to make Howard the “socially” accepted homerun champion and not go through the hassle of making it official with Major League Baseball, the sensible thinker has a response for you too. And that is that you cannot make it socially acceptable to believe that Howard is the homerun champ when it is quite possible that he has done steroids too. I’m not claiming that he has, but to say he has not done steroids is contradictory to anyone’s argument that Barry Bonds has. I mean the last time I checked, we have the same amount of proof on both of them, which is none. Hence, to speculate on Bonds means that you have to be weary of Howard as well, in order to be fair.
School of Thought #2: The Extreme Approach
The extremist answer to the question of whether or not Howard should be deemed the homerun champion is “Of course he should!” The extremists approach this situation by saying that Bonds,
used steroids, undeniably. They claim that the proof is evident in the hearings McGuire testified in, Bonds’s claim that he did not knowingly take steroids, and the fact that Sammy’s and
‘s achievements were just evidence of the former. Extremists believe that all of the steroid and HGH talk places a tainted cloud over the records of Bonds and company, and that cloud alone is merit enough to consider Howard the single season homerun champion. Extremists argue that it was no coincidence that at the same time the steroid era was said to be at its pinnacle point, players kept surpassing Maris’s mark of 61 homeruns.
Let me point out that the extremists are the traditionalists and are the ones who want to make baseball ‘s past time once again. Extremists want to reinstitute the adoration of the homerun record, and if that means they have to use radical reasoning and actions, then they are perfectly willing to.
On Mike & Mike in the morning, an ESPN radio show,
suggested that there be a pay-per-view event where the MLB test
for performance enhancing drugs. He asks for Howard to pee into a cup on live television, have his specimen tested in front of millions, and have the commissioner be given the results. Once the results are known, the commissioner is supposed to denounce Howard if he fails, or hold up his hand in victory (like a referee does in a boxing) and claim the
the new home run king. That would be fun, wouldn’t it? Ultimately, it would rid of all of the speculation, guesswork, and supposition, right?
Actually, it might, at least in Howard’s case. But then again, even if we can prove he never used steroids this season, it does not prove he has never used them in the past. A lack of evidence does not mean there is evidence of absence!
However, such a test does not make anything that happened back in 2001 any clearer, and thus we can impeach Bonds because we have exonerated Howard. Besides, the last time I saw someone pee on TV, it brought about more litigation and confusion than there was in the first place.