Sheesh, it has been far too long!Â I will catch up on a few movies I have seen over the next couple of days.
During my absence Barry Bonds set the lifetime home run record in major league baseball.Â Interestingly, as the most revered record in American sports fell, at least half the conversation was of steroids.Â As a sports fan, I was, of course, asked my opinion.Â I will try to convey my response here (keeping in mind that I do not proof blog entries at all, nor to I take longer then it takes to type them when composing, it’s a blog, after all!!!).
When evaluating a record across generations, what I believe is important, is whether the playing field is level.Â Â Â For example, I do not believe 5 tennis championships in a row today are any less valid than they would be 50 years ago based on superior equipment.Â This belief stems from the fact that 50 years ago everyone was using wooden racquets and today everyone is using the “superior” equipment.Â In other words, if the guy/gal across the net from you is using the same equipment as you, you have no benefit over someone from another era who was using inferior equipment.
Similarly, the question, to me, is not whether Bonds is juicing, the question is whether the majority of his peers (specifically the pitchers he is facing) are.Â If so, it does not matter if he is or not, with regard to the record, thereby making it legitimate from my perspective.
There are a couple of things I feel compelled to explain.
While I do not believe this is the key issue here, I want to be clear that I do not, under any circumstances, condone, let alone encourage, the use of illegal, controlled or performance enhancing substances. Â They are bad for people, bad for the game, and a horrible example to others.Â I loath the idea of people giving up on themselves before they even start (and, yes, all you chemically altered athletes out there, I’m talking to you).Â If you believe you cannot compete, that you are not good enough, without juicing, then you have given up on yourself, and you should be ashamed.
How many games did Babe Ruth et. al. miss because there was no such thing as a cortisone shot, electro-shock therapies, etc. that keep modern players in the games despite various ailments. Â If you are going to put an * next to the record, I really think that is a better reason to do it. Again, assuming that most players are “using”.Â Even with a level playing field, if you get an average of say 10+ more games a year over your career, you have an advantage (don’t even get me started on the short seasons during Ruth’s career, and the * next to Marris’s former record).
When I say “if most people are juicing” I’m not talking about other hitters.Â I’m talking about pitchers, which is the relevant position with regard to offsetting any advantage a batter is getting.Â Â It is my belief, sadly, that more players (including pitchers) are using.Â As such, Bonds should be credited for his record, but that credit should come with an *.Â Not because of steroids but because of the advantages of modern medical treatments and the longer seasons (with regard, specifically, to Ruth).