April 02, 2005
Bringing back the asterisk

It's not just the boyos in Washington that can grandstand about baseball: The North Dakota Senate has unanimously passed a resolution calling on Bud Selig to Roger Maris the single-season home run king again.

"In North Dakota when we think something has been wrong, we try to make it right," said Sen. Joel Heitkamp (D), who sponsored the resolution. "And when it comes to Roger Maris, and when it comes to steroids, and when it comes to how people have taken this record away . . . that's not right."

Maris grew up in Fargo, N.D., where he was a high school star in baseball and football. State senators approved the measure 45-0. It now moves to the North Dakota House for additional review.

Mark McGwire broke Maris's record by hitting 70 home runs in 1998, when Sammy Sosa hit 66. In 2001, Barry Bonds broke McGwire's record with 73 home runs.

I confess, I've mostly ignored all the steroid silliness. Has anyone actually accused Sammy Sosa of dosing up? If not, then it seems to me that even if you buy into the argument that what McGwire and Bonds did was tainted, you're still left with Slammin' Sammy as the HR king. Details, details.

I have always believed that the record book is what it is, and we do ourselves a disservice when we claim that this achievement or that is somehow illegitimate. Have we forgotten the attempt to downplay Maris' accomplishment in 1961 when the self-appointed historical purists claimed that he didn't really break Babe Ruth's record because Babe Ruth played a 154-game schedule while Maris had 162 games? Commissioner Ford Frick's attempt to distinguish between the two by ordering the record books to list both results - something that was only ever done for the home run record, by the way - was an insult to everyone involved, one that was eventually removed when wiser heads finally prevailed. Let's please don't do that again.

Finally, I should note that for all the huffing and puffing, Roger Maris is still the American League record-holder for home runs in a single season. He's not in danger of being forgotten any time soon. Let his legacy be. It doesn't need your help.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on April 02, 2005 to Baseball | TrackBack

Well, there is the matter of Sosa's corked bat...

Still, it's pretty ridiculous. Clearly, all must be just as peachy in North Dakota as it is in the rest of the world for yet more legislative types to feel the need to poke their noses into baseball.

Posted by: Sue on April 2, 2005 10:48 PM