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Will A-Rod Be Recognized as Baseball’s HR Champ?

By Jed Weisberger ~ January 18th, 2010. Filed under: Digest Contributors.

Obviously the events in Haiti have rightfully dominated the news the past few days.  Before that terrible earthquake, Mark McGwire shook the sports world with his emotional confession to MLB Network’s Bob Costas.

Whether you feel McGwire did enough to earn forgiveness is your opinion, but one matter about the interview really irritated me. McGwire told Costas over and over that he didn’t feel his use of performance-enhancing drugs affected his performance.

Harold Reynolds of the MLB Network quickly disagreed, noting, “Maybe if I had used performance-enhancing drugs, a lot of my fly balls to the warning track might have ended up in the seats.’’

Reynolds takes it that far. Others feel McGwire’s stats, including his record-setting 70 homers in 1998 – eclipsed by Barry Bonds’ 73 in 2001 – are worth as much as a counterfeit $20 bill. There is more than a grass-roots movement to either put an asterisk before these statistics or to simply disregard them.

Bonds, of course, is Major League Baseball’s disgraced career home-run leader with 762, ahead of Hall-of-Famer Henry Aaron, who hit 755 without the aid of the “stuff’’ that McGwire has admitted using and there is evidence Bonds did as well.

McGwire will never catch Aaron, even if Cardinals manager Tony La Russa follows through with his thinking of possibly using his hitting coach as a pinch-hitter.  He is eighth on the all-time list, tied, curiously, with Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Both McGwire and A-Rod each have 583 home runs.  Jim Thome is 12th with a legitimate 564, while performance-enhancing drug user Manny Ramirez is 15th with 546. Both Thome and Ramirez, who is in the drug dog house with fans as well, are closer to the ends of their respective careers than A-Rod.

Of all the remaining players, Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, who is 69th on the list with 366, is the only other active performer who realistically could reach 600.

A-Rod, at 34 – he will turn 35 July 27 – has a shot at besting Bonds’ 762 with his present 583. The question is, if he manages to do such, will he be recognized as Major League Baseball’s all-time home-run leader?

Rodriguez, of course, had his performance-enhancing coming out last year, confessing to having used the drugs when he was a member of the Texas Rangers – 2001-2003. He hit 156 homers in three years with Texas, in a notorious hitters’ park.

With the Yankees since 2004, he has hit 36, 48, 35, 54, 35 and, in 100 games in 2009, 30. Will his stats be recognized by all if he eclipses Bonds’ mark?  A-Rod’s confession came after he was “outed’’ as a member of a list of over 100 players who tested positive for steroids.

One matter I feel would be fair to everyone who follows baseball would be to release the entire list of those who have tested positive.  Rodriguez was “outed.’’ McGwire confessed. Ramirez was caught.

Release of the list would help bring closure to this fetid era. Then the Court of Public Opinion can decide whose stats are real.

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Jed spent 35 years in the newspaper business working as both a writer and editor, in both sports and news under tight deadline pressure. As both sports editor at the Indiana (Pa.) Gazette and a copy editor/columnist at The Times of Trenton, he made daily decisions on overall coverage and designed and produced thousands of pages and special sections. Since accepting a buyout from The Times, he has concentrated on broadening his writing and editing horizons to the medical, academic and business fields. Anyone is welcome to Google Jed to see the different places in print, on the Web and in front of the camera his professional expertise has spread to.

1 Response to Will A-Rod Be Recognized as Baseball’s HR Champ?


    I think the key for A-Rod will be how consistent were his numbers pre-testing and post-testing. If his numbers are close than he should be considered legitimate. You can see where McGuires’, Bonds, and Sosas’ numbers were really Jacked after they started using steroids. Alex’s seem to be more consistent.

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