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Home Runs No Longer Special

Written by: Peter Coolbaugh

Instead of ranting about the Orioles and their 2-8 home stand to begin the 2nd half of the season (they are a joke, so nothing more needs to be said on that right now), I will focus on a topic that gets me angry.

As we know, Mr. A-Roid in NY is on the cusp of getting him into a very elite club, namely the 600 HR Club. The current roster of members includes immortals like Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays; a future HOFer in Ken Griffey Jr; and the frauds Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds. And Mr. Rodriguez will soon make the tally seven, with three of them being tainted.

Back when I was a kid, the 500 HR club was something very rare and special. Much like the 300 win club and the 3000 hit club - it was rare and dignified company. I was 13 when Mike Schmidt joined the 500 HR roster in 1987 and then he retired just a few years later. In September of 1996, Eddie Murray became the 15th member of this fraternity when he belted #500 against the Tigers at Camden Yards.

Think of this: Babe Ruth became the first member of the 500 HR club and 7 decades later the number was only 15 people. Then, in 1999 the numbers began to swell as 10 more individuals joined between 1999 and 2009. TEN! Something is suspicious here and of course we all know why.

There are those who have denied. There are those who have admitted or have gotten caught. But of those last 10 people, I would say only three are legitimate. Ken Griffey, Jr., Jim Thome and Frank Thomas seem to be the only honest individuals of the bunch. Scoundrels like McGwire, Sosa, Rodriguez, Ramirez, Sheffield, Palmeiro and Bonds are all individuals I consider a disgrace. We know who among them have already been caught be we also know deep in our hearts that all of them have brought shame to themselves and our beloved sport.

1998 when the balls were flying, we cheered and the commissioner looked the other way. As records fell and attendance soared, the MLB powers that be stood by and watched drugs and artificial enhancements ruin what is supposed to be a fair game. And what is left is a mockery. Barry Bonds is officially the all-time HR king and the holder of the single season record. Manny Ramirez who twice tested positive for steroids was a juiced up World Series MVP who hit #500 in 2008. It makes me sick to my stomach.

And now with A-Roid about to join the very elite 600 HR club, other sportswriters and baseball enthusiasts are finally saying it is time to wipe the slate clean as these fakers are tarnishing what was once a god-like accomplishment.

From my perspective - and I am known for being a bit harsh - the players who cheated should have their numbers reduced. For years when they juiced, their numbers should be nullified and voided. For many of them, that means several seasons lost which is fine by me. In addition, they should all be banned from Cooperstown for their sins against the game. Voters have already shown their disdain for Mark McGwire but I want to make sure these clowns never get in. Hitters, pitchers, whomever... if you enhanced your performance, you are persona non grata at the Baseball Hall of Fame. Yes, this means you too Clemens.

It angers me to the core what steroids has done to the sport. And the fact that these athletes were never really held accountable for their actions and that fans have seemingly forgotten about their transgressions. As a child you are taught about always doing your best and playing fair. When in life do we just toss those simple principles aside?

I highly doubt that Bud Selig will ever make anything right. Perhaps the next person, someone who has a conscience and loves the game will correct past errors.

I wonder what The Babe would think of all this?

Read this article in SI for another perspective on this topic:


1 comment:

  1. A-Fraud is indeed among those tainted and tainting the sacred 500 and 600 Clubs. It appears, however, that only national media, like ESPN, and the New York media, are all in a frenzy about it.

    This, I think, bodes well for those of us who love baseball, but it does give the game another black eye that I wish would go away because when the record is reached there will be mention of steroids, too.

    Selig has said that the current HGH testing in the minors is laying the ground work for eventual testing at the MLB level, but I'll beleive it when I see it.