OK, baseball fans and media: We need to have a talk.
You see, ever since Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton got insanely hot, the topic of whether or not he'll reach 62 home runs has become of a bit of a hot one. A stupid one, if you ask me. Several have on the radio in recent weeks asked me my thoughts on the matter and so I figured I'd get it out here in writing. Here goes ...
Considering the "real" home run record 61 is a laughably bad take.
Earlier this week,and he's 100 percent correct. He also did so with a lot of nuance. I'm gonna drop that part here and deal with all the people who think that 61 is the "real" record or that Hank Aaron's 755 is the "real" career home run record.
People who believe that nonsense: You don't get to pick and choose what to count in history. Revisionism isn't possible here. What happened was real. Barry Bonds' 73 home run season happened. It hurts your feelings, apparently, because you've decided that Barry Bonds isn't worthy of having the record. That's too bad. I wish you weren't so sensitive, but you apparently are, so we'll deal with some tough love.
To start, some math. Here's a first-grade-level problem for you:
<, > or =
73 ____ 61
The correct answer is >. Seventy-three is greater than sixty-one.
Uh oh, here comes the litany of excuses and WELL ACTUALLY guys. You're all gonna be saying things that don't actually matter when it comes to the record books.
You think (or claim to know) Barry Bonds juiced. OK. The league wasn't testing for anything and many others were juicing, too. This isn't to justify it from a moral standpoint or anything, it just is what it is. There wasn't a testing program in place and we don't know who was doing what. We do know that Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001. That's a fact.
It was a bad era for baseball in the long run (but great for baseball in the short run, by the way) in the minds of many, but it happened. You don't get to just erase the history books. The Black Sox Scandal was a far bigger ordeal for baseball and the Reds are still the 1919 World Series champions because it happened, like or not the manner in which it happened.
In no other sport are fans and media such cry-babies over numbers, either.
Sure, the NBA folk deal with discussions on hand-checking rules cranking up the perimeter shooting game and the introduction of the 3-point line definitely makes historic scoring numbers different.
Sure, the NFL nowadays has a passing game that might as well be on steroids (pun intended) compared to eras long ago.
The reality of sports -- and life, really, but this is a sports website -- is that circumstances evolve over time. This means there are things that skew numbers. In baseball, some of those circumstances are integration, expansion, ballpark dimensions changing, the ball being wound more tightly or less tightly, the pitcher's mound height changing, the advent of the designated hitter, reliever specialization and a laundry list of other changes.
With those things, stats are going to change over the course of generations. We're never going to see a pitcher win 511 games again, so Cy Young has the all-time wins record. Did you know Cy Young also has the record with 749 complete games? Even the best pitchers nowadays won't get to 75 career complete games. That's still the record. We shouldn't just start erasing the history of complete games in order for Clayton Kershaw to have a shot at the new "record."
The game changes. The stats don't. There are going to be discrepancies from generation to generation. It's inevitable.
Now, I'm obviously smart enough to understand that the people who claim Bonds doesn't hold the "real" home run record wouldn't suggest altering the complete game record. It's just a vehicle to point out that circumstances are always changing by era. Bonds played in a homer-happy era where MLB didn't test for PEDs. To reiterate, we don't know who was doing what.
We do know what happened, though. The records are the records. It doesn't matter if Bonds' involvement in the BALCO scandal hurts your feelings. He hit 73 home runs in 2001 and 762 in his career. Those things happened. All the kicking and screaming changes nothing. It only makes people look petty and whiny.
Don't be a whiner. Just accept that Barry Bonds is the single-season and career home run record holder. He is. Those things happened -- 73 times and 762 times, respectively. Sorry, I'm not sorry.