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New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge recently hit his 62nd home run of the 2022 season, and in doing so he broke a tie with Roger Maris and now holds the American League single-season record all to himself. The single-season record for all of Major League Baseball still belongs to Barry Bonds, who hit 73 homers in 2001. 

Those two facts have given rise to a revived debate over what the "legitimate" home run record is. Bonds is widely suspected of having used performance-enhancing drugs during his late-career peak and against the backdrop of an era in which PED use was seemingly prominent in MLB. All of that has caused some to dismiss Bonds accomplishments, and Judge's recent feats have in the minds of those same people made him the "true" single-season home run king. 

Commissioner Rob Manfred was asked about all of that on a recent appearance on ESPN, during which he referred to Judge's AL record as a "monumental achievement" that figures to "stand the test of time." As for evaluations of legitimacy, he said: 

"I think that over the history of the game there have been different eras, the ball performed differently, the equipment was different and I think the best way to handle it is let fans make their own judgment as to what records are most significant to them." 

For those who choose not to acknowledge the outputs of Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, and other potent sluggers of that era, the uncomfortably reality is that Bonds' 2001 season is factually the recognized MLB record (without an asterisk, it should be noted). Manfred acknowledged as much when he said that the record books "say what they say."

Everyone is of course free to apply whatever context they feel appropriate to whatever accomplishments they choose, but the simple fact that is Bonds holds the MLB record for most home runs in a season. The current discourse, dragged howling from the vaults, doesn't change that.