Ryan Howard’s Drive Toward 62 Homeruns is Nice but Meaningless

The rage on sports talk shows, radio and television alike, is the new post-steroid homerun record debate. Confounding the whole damn saga, more than anything of course, is the Maris Family; they’ve already come out and said that they would support an amendment stating that any player (from here on out) who hits 62 or more is the rightful owner of The Record.

So let’s talk about numbers, specifically 61 and 73 and a few others in between. Can we really have a post and pre steroid number? I mean, think about it, this area is so grey they should just call it Syracuse. Maris hit 61 in ’61 and until the 1998 season, when cheaters supreme McGwire and Sosa both shattered the record, 61 was The Number. Sosa actually beat 61 three different times (66, 63, 64) over the next couple of seasons, but luckily no one gives a shit about Sammy Sosa and his name can be stricken from the book on general principal. There are two numbers (and names) that Maris and Ryan Howard supporters are concerned with: McGwire’s 70 and Steroid King Barry Bonds’ 73. Both of which are figures that probably won’t be touched as long as the new steroid policy is in place.

So what do we do? Do we erase them? Do we give them a stupid, shitty asterisk? All this won’t matter if Ryan Howard, the Phillies’ fine, young slugger, goes into a horrible slump and tops out at 55. As of now, he’s 9 away (from 62) with about 23 games to go. It will be tough, but it’s not impossible. It just sucks because the whole thing is so confusing.

Here’s my takeâÂ?¦ Unfortunately, we can’t change the record. No one hates McGwire and Bonds more than I do, but it’s just not realistic to make any changes. Baseball is a strange, old sport and it’s gone through many changes. They didn’t alter the record book during the so-called Dead Ball Era* or The Why is Babe Ruth Hitting 48 More Homers than Anyone Else in the League Era (NOTE: these might be the same eras, I don’t know). And they can’t change it for the Steroid Era.

It’s weird; people talk about the Steroid Era like it happened 30 years ago and not LAST SEASON. Shit, it might still be happening, who the fuck knows?

My theory is that it’s more than just steroids that are messing with people’s heads. People, er, I mean baseball fanatics, have a real hard time letting go of this stuff. Most of these records are so old and fabled that fans build up immunity against accepting that they can be broken at all. If Jimmy Rollins had hit in 57 straight games, you better believe that there would be a contingent of Yankee fans, crawling out of the psychopath woodwork, saying that the new number was bogus because Rollins is actually an alien from planet Torbleflex. Baseball fans cannot let go.

But it’s time to. It’s sad but the hard truth is that Bonds will forever own the single season homerun record with 73 (perhaps until the Alien Era comes in earnest, and some green thing who can hit the bal 900 ft. rips 157 dingers in the year 2192).

*It should be noted that I don’t actually know what the Dead Ball Era was. I mean was the ball dead; is that supposed to be some strange, deep metaphor suggesting that all the players were sad and couldn’t hit very well? Who knows?

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