It's the most feared object in all of baseball. More feared than a Mariano Rivera heater or a David Ortiz plate appearance late in a tied ballgame. That gut wrenching phenomenon is known as the asterisk.
The asterisk has transformed into the scarlet letter of Major League Baseball ever since Roger Maris' home run record was branded with the unsightly symbol. The steroids era has given the asterisk new life and stigmatized it even more.
However, last night a new asterik was handed out in Yankee Stadium to a man who doesn't use performance enhancers and instead, until recently, used performance-destroyers.
Last night Josh Hamilton crushed 28 home runs in a first round Home Run Derby display that would have impressed even the ghost of the Bambino. As ball after ball sailed through the night sky (13 in a row at one point) everyone in the hallowed grounds of Yankee Stadium watched in utter amazement.
You could feel the emotion swarming around Hamilton, as everyone forgot about the competition itself and let themselves fall under the spell that only 28 tape measure home runs can create.
Yet Hamilton's performance will always come with a disclaimer; a "yeah, but" statement that tarnishes even the most impressive of performances. Every time some analyst speaks in awe of Hamilton's run at the Derby, their story will always end with the fact that Hamilton was unable to capture the crown.
Despite Hamilton's inability to close out the competition, he provided another great memory in the historic reels of Yankee Stadium lore. No one will be remembering Justin Morneau's title in 20 years, but they will recall in detail every one of Hamilton's bombs.
Even if Hamilton's 28 Home Run Derby homers and Roger Maris' 61 home runs will always be remembered with an asterisk next to their deeds, they were standout moments in a historic stadium that is chock full of once in a lifetime memories.
In the end it's not about the numbers, but the moments that went towards those records and created a mysticism for the fabled Gotham Colosseum.