Forever diminishing signifigance of MLB records

No respectful baseball fan can deny that Major League Baseball has lost some of its integrity in the past 10 years.

Hitting 30 home runs in a season has evolved from being impressive to adequate. Cecil Fielder achieved a milestone in 1990 by being just the third player to hit 50-plus home runs since Roger Maris’s historical season in 1961.

Since 1995, these statistics have been trivialized by having 10 players match this once-admirable mark. This alarming trend becomes all too apparent when legends like Ted Williams are being surpassed in home runs by Rafael Palmeiro.

This season alone, over 40 Major League players will reach the 30 home run mark. Having an ERA below four has suddenly erupted into being impressive. Offense fuels the game that was once known as baseball.

All of these statistical mutations cannot be blamed simply on steroid use and more advanced hitting regimens. A lowered mound and an altered, more “juiced” baseball are other reasons this offensive tirade is taking place. Let us not also forget the fact that men like Ty Cobb played with a 500-foot centerfield wall, if he was ever so lucky as to even have a centerfield wall.

These changes in the sport do not deter anyone’s current accomplishments, they are simply mutually exclusive to those accomplishments of, say, Babe Ruth. Barry Bonds can hit 800 home runs and he will still not be remembered as someone of Ruth’s stature.

Ruth did not use a bat, he used a heavy wooden club. Ruth did not have a strict nutritional diet, he lived lavishly. He did not take steroids, he drank habitually. He also did not play with the advantages Bonds does. Ruth never wore a gigantic elbow pad covering two thirds of the inside part of the plate, he simply walked to the plate and carelessly connected with what was placed in front of him. Ruth is what we call an immortal player. The man holds pitching records. Ruth was a player for the people. He was an icon who is loved so much that Maris was hated for passing him on the single season home run mark.

When Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa passed Maris five years ago, it was seen as a historical feat. Now, it is just another dog-ear in the book of baseball, as Bonds dwarfed their mark.

One must assume that if another player were to pass Bonds’s single season mark next season, the fans would view this feat with the same apathy Bonds’s accomplishment was viewed. Bonds will always be remembered as a man with great statistics, this fact no one can argue. One, however, must look at his statistics in relation to those surrounding him.

In 1920, Ruth hit 54 home runs – the second highest home run total was 19, by George Sisler. If any baseball fan claims he looks forward to seeing Bonds stomp by Willie Mays in career home run total, he has been corrupted by the times in which he is living. One can only hope that such a travesty will remind Major League Baseball of the necessary changes that should be made to return baseball to what it once was.

On a similar note, however, such a change would only make this generation of players seem phenomenal, which is both misleading and angering. We must ultimately accept that baseball has been forever altered, and that greatness and statistics no longer coincide.