Hank Aaron, Roger Maris and Lou Gehrig: Their Records Have Not Been Eclipsed
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Alex Rodriguez hit the 22nd grand slam home run of his career on Saturday, snapping a tie with Manny Ramirez. A-Rod is one slam away from tying Lou Gehrig for the most career grand slams.
A-Rod has admitted to using performance enhancing substances. Manny Ramirez has used them, too.
In 2001, Barry Bonds broke Mark McGwire's single season record when he belted 73 home runs. McGwire has admitted steroid use.
On August 7, 2007, Bonds hit the 756th home run of his tainted career. In January of that year, the New York Daily News leaked the fact that Bonds had tested positive for amphetamine use.
Bonds's lawyer admitted that his client had used steroids, but that he was unaware at the time of what he was using.
Commissioner Bud Selig recently told the Associated Press that Bonds's records will stand.
It is a sad state of affairs when individuals who admit breaking the law, the rules, or both, are recognized as holding records they achieved by cheating.
A-Rod claims that he used steroids only when playing for the Texas Rangers because he couldn't handle the pressure without them.
"When I arrived in Texas in 2001, I felt an enormous amount of pressure. I felt like I had all the weight of the world on top of me and I needed to perform, and perform at a high level every day," he said.
When A-Rod hits his 23rd and, inevitably, his 24th grand slam home run, Lou Gehrig will still hold the record at 23.
Rodriguez claims that he stopped using steroids when he left Texas. We don't know if that's true. But how many fans think that the pressure A-Rod faced in Texas was greater than the pressure he faced—and faces still—in New York?
If A-Rod manages to hit 756 home runs in his career, Hank Aaron will still hold the record. If Rodriguez manages to hit 763 home runs, Hank Aaron will continue to hold the career record for home runs.
And, yes, Roger Maris holds the single season home run record with 61.
Americans too easily lay down to authority these days. The fact that Bud Selig, who has not expressed great enthusiasm for Bonds's achievements, has stated that Bonds's records will stand does not mean that they are valid.
Selig wants the steroid era to fade into baseball history. With the passage of time, younger fans will forgive steroid use if the game is eventually cleaned up. Future fans—those not yet born—will view steroid use the way older fans look at amphetamine use during the 1950s and 1960s.
But the fact remains that Aaron's, Maris's and Gehrig's records were all eclipsed by cheaters.
Authority must be questioned. The media are a powerful force. Seeing an image of Rodriguez or Bonds on a giant screen, hitting a home run and hearing the announcer scream that a new record has been set, tends to make viewers accept what's being presented.
Would an American president lie to the American people?
Each individual must decide for herself. The decision here is that Hank Aaron, Roger Maris and Lou Gehrig—even if A-Rod hits two more grand slams—will still have unbroken records.
The All-Time Home Run Leader is
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