Alex Rodriguez 600th Homerun: Tainted Celebration Now
Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is entering a four-game series facing the Kansas City Royals sitting on 598 career home runs. A-Rod is trying to become the 7th player in Major League Baseball history to join the “600 Homerun Club.”
A-Rod will be joining some pretty impressive company–Barry Bonds (762), Hank Aaron (755), Babe Ruth (714), Willie Mays (660), Ken Griffey, Jr. (630), and Sammy Sosa (609).
Before the 2009 season, A-Rod’s name was leaked off the much talked about secret performance enhancing drug testing list conducted by MLB in 2003. A-Rod admitted to using steroids in his time with Texas Rangers from 2001-2003.
Due to A-Rod’s admission, this is the most uncelebrated passing of a milestone in recent baseball history–even less than Bonds passing Aaron, but not as unwanted as Aaron passing Ruth. Aaron received thousands of death threats on his way up to 715.
I was wondering if there was even any excitement among the fans of the Bronx Boomers, so I called one of my best friends Amos Kelsey–New Yorker, baseball fan, and most importantly a Pin Stripper through and through.
“There isn’t a lot of excitement around here for 600. I haven’t seen any 600 T-shirts. The overall feeling is that it’s tainted,” Amos said. Despite the unenthusiastic feeling, Amos would like see the milestone and will be in attendance for the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday’s games.
600 Homerun Club
When A-Rod reaches this accomplishment, the stats will be 3-3-1. Three guys who we are sure never used steroids (Aaron, Ruth, Mays); three guys we’re pretty certain used steroids (Bonds, Sosa, A-Rod); and one guy who played in the steroids era, but we all want to believe he is clean (Griffey).
Bonds has royally screwed himself by lying to a grand jury during the BALCO investigation about whether or not he used steroids. The cloud of doubt above Bonds will never go away and the majority of us will remain in the mindset that he is a cheater.
Meanwhile, Sosa not only forgot how to speak English when testifying in front of the grand jury, but has also tried to change the color of his skin and eyes–he looks like a Dominican vampire. Sosa is one of my favorite baseball players of all-time, but he will forever be linked to Mark McGwire and steroids.
Griffey, who finally retired this season, probably could have left the game on top of the HR leader board had he not spent so many games on the DL during the prime years of his career. Most baseball fans don’t believe Griffey ever took steroids. Diehard fans actually live in fear of it ever coming out that he did–desperately wanting one great clean player from this generation.
Other Reason for Higher Totals
In 1969, MLB made a major change in an attempt to give the hitters more of an advantage. They lowered the mound from 15 to 10 inches. This may not seem like that big of a change, but many players have said that change leveled out the pitches creating less of an advantage for the pitcher.
Expansion has also played a big part in the increased power numbers among baseball players. By adding more teams to the league, it has spread out the talent and allowed for less talented pitchers to come from the minors to the majors.
The designated hitter is another reason that we have seen an increase in power in the American League–which A-Rod has played in for his entire career. The ability to add another power hitter to your line-up could create protection for guy like A-Rod and give him better pitches to hit.
Over time they have wound the ball tighter, creating the ball to leave the bat faster with the ability for more distance.
All of the reasons are contributing factors, I’m not in denial that none of these reasons played as big of a part in the stats as steroids. When lead off guys start hitting 25 – 50 HRs a season, it doesn’t matter about the tightness of a ball, the height of the mound, and if they only hit against single-A pitchers. Something else is the cause.
Foreshadowing on 600
Bonds, Sosa, and A-Rod will all have over 600 HRs. They have all either admitted or we strongly believe they used PEDs. The big reason as to why I think we may someday look back at A-Rod’s 600th HR and applaud is the fact that A-Rod has admitted to steroid use. He has had the chance to rectify the situation with productive years following “tainted” ones.
To our knowledge, A-Rod has not tested positive other than that one time and has been playing clean since that point. Since MLB didn’t drug test early in his career, we have no choice but to believe that he wasn’t juicing early on in his career.
A-Rod will be 36 on July 27th–giving him at least 4-5 solid more years of production in the majors. I believe he will finish somewhere around Aaron and Bonds on the HR chart. Some people even believe he has a shot at 800.
Hypothetically speaking, if he finishes with 750 HRs, take away the three seasons in Texas tainted by steroids (total 154), that still leaves him with a total of 596. This would leave him at his current place on the all-time list, 7th.
“I think A-Rod will be the first player from the steroids era to get into the Hall of Fame despite admitting to steroid use,” Amos said during the phone conversation. “I think he will get in on his 3rd ballot.”
I, too, believe that A-Rod will be the first admitted user to get into the Hall of Fame, but I think they will make him wait longer. Mine opinion is that he will get in on his 5th try. Even with the extraction of the tainted years, A-Rod will still be a .300 hitter, with HRs, RBIs, and OPS to back it up. Last year he also became a World Series champion and came up clutch in the post season–something that fans and writers say is his biggest flaw.
I think, right now, any celebration that we give him would be tainted. But, when all is said and done, A-Rod is one of the best players from this generation and I will never forget how dangerous he was with a bat in his hands.
A-Rod’s 600th Homerun Prediction
Friday 23rd, 2010 – 2nd at bat – 3rd inning