Numbers define Baseball.
All of you sports history buffs like me, lets face it, were obsessed with numbers, the statistics from all the greats is what drives us to love the game. We may love the sights and sounds of the game of baseball but the numbers gives us all that feeling, that feeling of greatness.
Forty-two, Jackie Robinson’s number, 714, Babe Ruth’s home run total, $252,000,000, Alex Rodriquez’s first record setting contract total.
Numbers allow us to see the game in all its beauty by seeing record after record set, and then broken, and then broken again (as we all hope Bonds’ home run record will be).
1955, the year the Brooklyn Dodgers finally won a championship, 8, the number of “Black Sox” members who threw the 1919 World Series, 7, Mickey Mantle’s number.
The recent revelations of the Steroid Era have both shocked and angered Baseball enthusiasts that the players who have broken records and were the best players of the error cheated.
What we all must remember is that one of the reasons for the rise of steroids was to put on a show along with competitive advantage. Athletes since the beginning of time have always looked for an edge to put themselves higher than others.
What we must realize, is that the “love affair” with the home run did not help matters in the late 1980’s, 90’s to the present.
One of the greatest records in sports is the all-time home run record now held by Barry Bonds (I use his name because unless action is taken, he is the home run champion).
But why was Babe Ruth so much fun to watch? It certainly was not his speed or fielding ability or his looks, so what was it? The home run. That is what defined the Bambino.
Pitching lost its lust during the late 1970’s and early 80’s and the game needed something to fill the void, the answer, offense.
That is not to say many don’t still enjoy a good pitchers duel (as I certainly do) but everyone loves the long ball. So while we may now hate Canseco, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Palmerio, possibly Rodriquez depending on whom you talk to.
But if there was never any mention of steroids, didn’t you enjoy it? I know I did.
When McGwire broke the single season home run record didn’t we all cheer? When Bonds then broke McGwire’s record did we not clap? Did no one enjoy watching Sosa and McGwire embrace after McGwire’s historic home run ending the race?
We all did to some degree, and we the fans do have a lot of the blame as these players in causing this entire mess. While I am not saying we told these men to take performance enhancing drugs, we really did.
The home run made baseball exciting again and if these players had to take the drugs to do it, we didn’t know or care as long as the balls flew out of the yard.
Everyone has to understand that this era of massive home runs was a lot of fun, and it is just a shame that the players took drugs in order to make it happen but is anyone really upset by it. If you stop thinking of it as cheating, didn’t you enjoy it?
Piazza’s go ahead home run against the Braves just 2 weeks after September 11th. Ventura’s Grand Slam single, while these are two examples from the Mets every team has a few during this period.
So let’s just stop talking about steroids and performance enhancing drugs. We know it happened, we know it many of the greatest players of the era used them, but let’s get passed it. Let’s look at the history of the greatest game and put our effort into a clean future.
Let’s focus on the numbers.