Why Barry Bonds’ Steroid Induced Home Run Record is as Valid as any Other MLB Record

Barry Bonds looks at his own steroids induced home run recordAll records are relative to the era a player played in, and Barry Bonds played in the steroids era. How many pitchers did he face that were also on steroids, or wouldn’t have been on the mound but for the recuperative effects of steroids? How many other batters were also on steroids, and the vast majority did not rise to Bonds’ level (see Ozzie Canseco)? My main point is that MLB records are ALL suspect. For every current record I can point to specific advantages that player had during his era to achieve that record. For example:

  1. Mark McGuire’s and Sammy Sosa’s season HR records* (enough said).
  2. Some records were set after expansion watered down the talent pool.
  3. Some records were set during the expanded 162 game season.
  4. Some players played on powerhouse teams, as opposed to better players that played on poor teams.
  5. Some batting records were set in small ballparks.
  6. Some pitching records were set in large ballparks.
  7. Rule changes and scoring changes affected many records (i.e. the DH, how Saves are awarded, etc.).
  8. Some players took uppers, some took downers, some drank, some were on acid, some snorted coke, some sniffed smelling salts, some chewed tobacco, some smoked pot, some popped greenies, some blackies, and some took little blue pills. And I haven’t scratched the surface.
  9. Some players had the advantage of medical advances from laser eye surgery to Tommy John surgery.
  10. Career records are based on long term health, and the product of better training, nutrition, medical advances, pitch counts, cushy air travel, deluxe hotels, not throwing curveballs when you’re a teenager, and not having to have a second job in the off season.
  11. Changes in the baseball, the science of designing modern bats, the rosin bag, batting gloves, sunglasses, contacts, and larger gloves have all affected player statistics.
  12. Managerial strategies have changed over the years. Did Hammerin’ Hank Aaron or the immortal Babe Ruth get intentionally walked as much as Bonds does?
  13. Cheating has always played a part in baseball and has been defined differently. Some tactics have included stealing signs, corking the bat, scuffing the ball, cutting the ball, stretching the ball’s leather, using vaseline, pine tar, or other illegal substances. Some Hall of Fame pitchers from Gaylord Perry to Harry Jebsen made a career out of what is now considered cheating (the spit ball), and were allowed to legally “cheat” after the rule was changed (see The Spitball Pitchers).

Give me any Major League Baseball record, and I’ll point out the advantages that player enjoyed, or I’ll show you a player that would have broken the record if not for the disadvantages he had to endure.

In any case you shouldn’t worry about it. Someone else will come along and break Bonds’ record, and it will be a great day for baseball.

(Editors note: Unless that player is Alex Rodriguez!)

*Thanks to the late, great Ted Kennedy they are also known as Mike McGuire and Sammy Sooser!

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