Why Roger Maris’ Home Run Record Still Stands

I am going on record to say that Roger Maris’ single-season home run record of 61 home runs in 1961 is still the undeniable (if not official) MLB record for homer runs in a single season despite being broken several times by three of baseball’s most recognizable – and controversial – baseball players of all-time.

That’s right, forget Barry Bonds’ astronomical 73 blasts in 2001 right along with Mark McGwire’s 70 and Sammy Sosa’s 66 in 1998. The “real” record belongs to Maris who played in an era where the only cheating going on was mediocre pitchers scuffing up balls – not players injecting themselves with all kinds of performance-enhancing substances in order to increase their strength exponentially in an effort to crank out more home runs than they normally would without any assistance from steroids.

I think most baseball observers – and especially purists – would agree that any suspicion of cheating – especially from the aforementioned “Steroid Era” players should automatically qualify them and their “records” as tainted and therefore, not legitimate.

So, where does that leave us?

Well, if it was up to me – back at Maris’ 61, which, if commissioner Bud Selig, had any guts, would declare is still the official MLB record until someone who is undeniably not using any performance enhancing substances, comes along and breaks it (Ryan Howard?).

I mean, let’s be real here for a minute.

The three men, who have surpassed Maris’ single-season record, have extremely questionable pasts when it comes to their involvement with performance-enhancing substances.

If I could come right out and say it, I would, but then I’d be looking at a possible lawsuit. However, I will say that believe with all my heart that all three have taken – and were taking – performance enhancing steroids when they all surpassed Maris’ record.

Could I be wrong?

Of course, however, I would say that it is safe to surmise that all three players have taken some kind of illegal substance at some point in their respective careers -and in Sosa’s case – not only is he surrounded by the same cloud of suspicion of every other “Steroid Era” great, he was caught cheating through and through with a corked bat in 2003.

Even McGwire, who was once America’s “golden boy,” was an admitted user of the manufactured dietary supplement, androstenedione.

Now, when McGwire admitted that he was using “andro” the substance was not on the list a banned substances by Major League Baseball, hence, McGwire was “not cheating” because the rules didn’t ban the controlled substance, allthough it was banned at the time by the World Anti-Doping Agency and hence from the Olympic Games.

Fortunately for McGwire, it wasn’t until April 11, 2004, that the United States Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of Andro, citing that the fact that the drug poses significant health risks commonly associated with steroids.
I don’t even want to get into the ongoing Barry Bonds saga and the fact that Bonds admitted using a “substance” called the “clear” that he thought was actually flaxseed oil.

The bottom line is this. If Selig ever had any intention of upholding the “integrity of the game” as he has repeatedly said the last couple of seasons, then he would unequivocally return Maris’ record to its original state as the single-season home run record. Anything short of that act, and Selig is just blowing hot air.

And speaking of integrity, what does it say that Selig will not allow baseball’s all-time hit leader, Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame for gambling, but he will allow three, “known” cheaters to hold on to their respective “records?”

It says that MLB is still in need of stronger leadership and stronger steroid testing. Cheating, no matter how it’s done, is an abomination in professional sports that can not and should not be tolerated one iota.

Maybe it’s me, but until I see someone break Maris’ record that I know is not taking anything illegal, I’m going to continue to count his record as the all-time single-season record – and Major League Baseball should too.

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