MARINE: Baseball’s home run record forever in doubt

Corey Marine

Of all the hallowed records in sports, one always stands out above the rest: the all-time home run record. When Hank Aaron belted his 715th home run and passed Babe Ruth on the all-time home runs list in 1974, it was something magical. However, just decades later, the American pastime found itself surrounded in a cloud of doubt. Thirty-one years later, an aging Barry Bonds surpassed Aaron on the historic list, but the same feeling of excitement was not felt by baseball fans. Instead, for many people, the precious record was tainted. A man accused of taking steroids now sat on top of the baseball world.

Baseball fans all around the nation all feel the same way about the steroid era of baseball. Some players who were considered the best ever to play the game were later exposed as frauds. In 2003, Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield were among the athletes connected to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative.

A few years later, Brian McNamee and the Mitchell Report added more names to an already extensive list of players connected to HGH. This list contained the names of multiple Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens and current Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte.

Bonds claims to have accidentally taken the illegal supplements. Giambi apologized without ever admitting to anything. Sheffield denied the accusations vehemently. Pettitte was given a free pass of sorts from fans and the media for his honesty in admitting what he had done and appearing to be genuinely sorry and disappointed in himself. Clemens took a while to put out any statement, giving off an impression that he was calculating some response to come away looking innocent.

The steroid era has taken away something from the game of baseball – integrity. As fans, whenever we see someone get bigger, stronger, or getting a home run swing working, we pray that he is not on the juice. Rick Ankiel was the prime example of this.

We were convinced this pitcher-turned-outfielder legitimately recovered from a Tommy John surgery because of his natural ability and hard work. He was later linked to HGH use in 2005.

With the recent news of Alex Rodriguez’s failed drug test in 2003 suddenly coming to light, we, the fans have the right to question everything within the game. The fact that Rodriguez may have been informed prior to any tests raises eyebrows. The fact that his name was on a list that was kept secret from the nation until now brings about more questions.

How do we know that none of our star players are using steroids now? A list of cheaters was hidden from us for five to six years. Can we trust Commissioner Bud Selig to keep his promise to try to keep our game as clean as possible? After all, he knew there was a problem and let it run rampant through every Major League clubhouse.

Bonds and Clemens are facing the possibility of jailtime. What will become of baseball if both men are indicted on their respective charges? Will our record books be wiped clean, appearing as if the two legends never took the field? Will the dreaded asterisk be placed by their names? Only time will tell.

However, Rodriguez’s situation may be the one that hurts the most. He was supposed to be the one to bring back purity to the record books. We marveled at his work ethic. We admired his natural ability. Each home run was one step closer to having a clean player at the top. Now we have to wait for the next great player to have a legitimate shot at being crowned home run king. Until someone without a gloomy steroid cloud hanging over his head reclaims the title, baseball will not be able to get past this shameful chapter in its long and otherwise great history.

Basketball has never had a legitimate problem with performance enhancing drugs. Football gets some leeway because of how physically punishing the sport is. Baseball is a different case altogether. Some people think the drugs do not make a difference. They claim steroids cannot help you hit a ball. That is true, but it can help you hit a ball over the fence in a Major League ballpark.

The American public is forgiving, but the public does not forget. It will take drastic measures for America to get past what happened during the Selig administration. Harsher penalties for cheaters would be a step in the right direction, but that may still not be enough. If Bonds is indeed found guilty, give us back our hallowed record. Erase Bonds’ name from the books, and place Aaron back on the throne.


Corey Marine is a junior communication major from New York, N.Y. He can be reached at [email protected].