Aaron Judge is chasing Roger Maris, not Barry Bonds

When Aaron Judge hits his 62nd home run of the year, something almost certain will happen between now and October 18. 5, when the regular season of baseball ends, he will become the king of home runs for just one season.

Entering Thursday, Judge has 60 home runs with 14 games left. This ties him to Babe Ruth’s 60s and places him behind Roger Maris’s 61s – which, if you really love the game, is the record Judge is chasing.

The record is Not Barry Bonds is 73, Mark McGwire’s 70, or any of Sammy Sosa’s three home run seasons of over 62 years. Their performance is tainted, achieved during an era where the use of performance enhancing drugs was rampant and testing was non-existent in Major League Baseball. It doesn’t matter what the baseball log says, because the sport is notorious for not punishing cheaters. After all, the Houston Astros are still recognized as the 2017 World Series champions. Enough said.

Barry Svrluga: The best comp for Aaron Judge’s historic season? Babe Ruth.

Baseball’s non-evil approach to steroids hurt the game then and it hurts it now.

people still suggest there were no rules against steroids until the MLB and the players union finally agreed on an experimental drug testing system in 2002. This is not true. Fay Vincent banned steroids in 1991 when she was commissioner. Banderli was one thing; trying to enforce the ban was another. It took the MLB and the union more than a decade to accept drug tests. It was a bit like having speed limits on the freeway but no police to enforce them.

With no potential consequences, players took performance-enhancing drugs without worrying about getting caught. In 2007, the year former Senator George Mitchell compiled a report for MLB on steroid use in gaming, I was writing a book about Tom Glavine and Mike Mussina. Before he came out of the report, I asked each of them what percentage of players had used steroids before drug testing began. They both estimated around 25%, although they also agreed that when counting those who had at least experienced steroids, the number was closer to 50%. It is an epidemic.

The day the Mitchell report came out in December, I called both pitchers. Again, they almost said the same thing: they were more surprised by the names Not in the list with respect to the names that have been included.

Mitchell had no summons power and no one could be despised for lying to him. He again provided evidence that 89 players, including Roger Clemens, had been users of steroids and other performance-enhancing drugs.

Nobody, except perhaps close friends, family and ardent fans, questions the idea that Bonds, Sosa and McGwire – among many others – used steroids. McGwire admitted this and Bonds’ denials sound a bit like Richard M. Nixon saying, “I’m not a scammer.” Sosa, whose English was consistently excellent, stated at a congressional hearing in 2005 that he did not speak enough English to answer questions.

None of the three, thank goodness, are in the Hall of Fame, even though their life stats would normally have them bumping into candidates. Bonds scored 762 home runs, Sosa 609 and McGwire 583. Bonds and McGwire were Gold Glove defenders.

Even with a new generation of Hall of Fame voters more inclined to rely on analysis than morality, none of the three men who allegedly surpassed Maris were voted on. Neither of them has Clemens.

Maris scored her 61 homers in 1961, but never up to 40 in any other season. He was a two-time MVP and played on three World Series champions: two in New York, one in St. Louis. But injuries shortened his career and he finished 275 home runs.

Its numbers are not close to Hall of Fame worthy. But there are those who think that Maris deserves consideration, not only for what he did in 1961, but because she had to tolerate the ridiculous denigration of her record by then Commissioner Ford Frick. The asterisk with her name – meaning that her 61 homers have come in more games than Ruth played – remained there until her death from cancer at age 51 in 1985. Only six years later a committee chaired by Vincent voted to remove the asterisk. Ironically, that was the same year Vincent banned steroids.

During the summer of 1998, McGwire and Sosa’s pursuit of Maris’ record became the subject of romance among nearly every media, with iconic Washington Post reporter Shirley Povich a notable exception. In fact, the 2006 book “Shadow Play,” by Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, reported that Bonds’ steroid use began after the 1998 season, in part because he was so upset by the idea. that McGwire and Sosa could somehow be considered better players than him.

The only outrage in the Hall of Fame vote? How many people have voted for Barry Bonds.

They weren’t. Bonds was a future Hall of Fame before putting anything into his body. It is worth mentioning that he stole 514 bases in addition to all his home runs. But he cheated and damaged the game, just like the others did.

It doesn’t matter, not a bit, that the judge says he regards Bonds’ 73rd record as a one-season record. He was a 9-year-old who grew up not far from San Francisco when Bonds had his best season. It is understandable that you think Bonds has the record. But he is wrong.

Many in the media continue to report that the judge is getting closer to that of Maris American League home run record. It’s true. But when he overtakes Maris, he will hold the all-time record in a single season for home runs.

The most thrilling moment in person I have had in the sport was watching Ben Johnson explode from the blocks and leave Carl Lewis in the dust in the 100m run at the 1988 Seoul Olympics. The chills still run down my arms when I see that run in the my mind.

It just wasn’t real. Three days after the competition, the International Olympic Committee stripped Johnson of his gold medal after testing positive for steroids. (Note to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred: The IOC did not say the medal was simply “a piece of metal.”) I was one of many devastated people. We had seen the story, we just hadn’t. This is how many people felt after Bonds, McGwire and Sosa turned out to be users.

So when Judge hits that 62nd homer, we shouldn’t just stand up and clap, we should get the chills.

It will have made history. True story.

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