Editor’s note: Jeff Perlman He is the author of 10 books including his most recent.The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Legend of Bo Jackson“which will soon be released from Mariner’s books. The opinions expressed here are his own. Read more Opinion on CNN.
History was made on Wednesday night, when Yankee footballer Aaron Judge He hit his 61st home run.
How do I know that history has been made? Because Major League Baseball has devoted so much of the season to reminding us that history is about to be made. It was everywhere – all over MLB.com, discussed by MLB Network’s chief speakers, thrown up and down, left and right through countless broadcast booths. History will be made! History must be made! The date destined to be made is going to be a wonderful history, because, er, historical.
The words themselves (“history” and “historic”) served as reality masks – by allowing rampant steroid and human growth hormone use throughout the 1990s and early 2000s – decimated Major League baseball and disgraced its own record book, and only a shot (a yawn) equaled a mark American League at home.
And if there’s one thing we learned from former President Donald Trump, it’s repeating a line that pays off. Words somehow fuse in our psyche so that – after adequate exposure – we consider the idea to be original and irrefutable.
Or put another way: Major League Baseball desperately wants you to believe that Judge’s 61 Homer is historical.
The unfortunate truth is: it is not. The reason is Major League Baseball itself.
When Yankees’ Roger Maris surpassed Babe Ruth’s mark in one season With 61 patina in 1961Many believe that it is one of the great achievements in sports. Yes, there were (as always) detractors and skeptics: Maris’ 61 players came in over 161, while Ruth’s happened in 154. The Lord’s Year 1961 was also a season for expansion, meaning additional teams with poor staffing. .
But, as the decades went by, Marie 61 gained weight. You could be a loyal Yankee fan, a casual fan of Angels, or an indifferent fan — and odds are you’re still familiar with the 61. That’s how baseball milestones worked – Joe DiMaggio’s 56 matches hit streak It wasn’t just the history of baseball, but American Date. The same thing went to Hank Aaron’s career 755, to Maris 61. They were important. It was important. They have stood the test of time.
And then, in the ’90s, something happened. At the time, as a baseball writer for Sports Illustrated, I was somewhat confused but relatively clueless as to why men who once flaunted their pretzel outfits drove to spring training as a cross-pollination of Evander Holyfield and David Michelangelo. When, in 1998, not one over the 61st Maris, but two superstars who were so great, Mark McGuire (who scored 70 on home ground) and Sami Sosa (the more modest 66), a nation rose up and celebrated and men were considered gifts from the gods. My own post named McGwire and Sosa the Athlete of the Year award, and plastered their huge figures on the cover of the magazine, wearing togas.
Before long, as more and more players undergo dramatic physical transformations, the talk turned to performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) like steroids and human growth hormone. The backup catcher will catch a (non-publishable) reporter about the uneven playing field. The scandalous juicy can explain his muscular additions by citing his “juice diet” (wink, wink) or “this amazing date rocks my mom.”
Inside the press boxes, we were discussing how it became impossible to believe what happened in front of us. Baltimore’s Brady Anderson, who previously had a runaway season in his career with a total of 21, raised eyebrows (And the questions that have not yet been answered) when he reached the age of fifty. What happened to make Souza’s body more and more like bodybuilder Lee Haney? Why does this second 35-year-old have acne covering his back?
When Barry Bonds of San Francisco, in 2001, broke McGuire’s record with 73 homers, we all knew that was bullshit. Not some of us all of us. Here was a guy who, at 36, whose muscles are growing above muscle and the size of a skull – as I mentioned in my Bonds bio, “Love Me Hate Me” – has actually grown in recent years (that’s physically impossible without the help of growth hormone). I was in San Francisco tonight McGwire bond passedAnd he was… stupid. Just damn stupid. Local fans stood and cheered, but it felt flat, meaningless, and a little embarrassing. Like spotting a fake magician’s thumb.
All along, Major League Baseball and Major League Baseball Players… did nothing. Runs from home were a feat, so the team’s owners shrugged off PED’s suspicions while the federation made it clear that it would refuse to test its players in any kind of methodical and impactful manner. The result was a temporary excitement of the long ball, followed by a calm but overwhelming realization (by most of those involved in the game) that the record-breaking had become meaningless. Fun things to do: How many home runs have the Bonds hit? (I He wrote his autobiography And I have no idea).
Finally, in 2002, League and Syndicate He approved a screening test, followed by a urine test for PED in 2004, and banned an amphetamine test in 2006 and a blood test for growth hormone in 2012. It’s far from perfect, but it’s an improvement. “We are constantly improving this (testing) software,” Major League Commissioner Rob Manfred said. He said in 2016. “Science is getting better. And it is true that the windows for detection on certain substances have been lengthened — the windows for detection, which means that the periods of time during which you can detect a substance in someone’s body have been improved. It is just science that is getting better.”
With Wednesday’s blast in Toronto, Judge and Maris have been linked with seventh Most home hits in a season ever – behind the Bonds, two big McGuire’s and three (yes, three) implausible long-ball assaults from Sosa. Which is why, when I heard Michael Kay, the awesome Yankees anchor, celebrate the judge’s moment saying, “He’s been chasing history! Now he’s making it!” Well, I was nothing but heartbroken.
The 30-year-old, on the other hand, has had a season for the ages – he’s been an AL MVP, and at the moment he’s in line to become the first Yankees treble winner since Mickey Mantle in 1956.
This should be a historic time for baseball.
This should be a historic time for Aaron Judge.
Instead, greed destroyed baseball — and took its history with it.
An earlier version of this editorial included a wrong number of Mark McGwire’s home runs. He hit 70 times in 1998.