Baseball has its share of hallowed numbers
Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Numbers have always had a special significance to society.
Three has always had a special significance in religion.
Seven is considered a lucky and perfect number.
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The number 13 is almost always an unlucky number.
But how about these numbers: 162, 61, 714, 755, 90, 60.5.
For any baseball fan, and even most people that aren’t die-hard fans, these numbers will ring a bell.
There are 162 games in a season, Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in a season to break Babe Ruth’s record, Ruth hit 714 home runs in his career and Hank Aaron had 755.
The distance between bases is 90 feet, and the distance from the pitcher’s mound to home plate is 60 feet, six inches.
These are hallowed numbers in baseball, but now we have to come to grips with a new one - 756.
Unless you’ve been under a rock for the last couple of days, you know that Barry Bonds broke Aaron’s record.
But will this new record number achieve the presence in everyone’s mind that these others have?
For me, I tend to think that it won’t.
Just like the single season home run record.
Ruth hit 60, Maris hit 61 and McGwire hit 70 in 1998.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself that Barry broke that record in 2001.
Barry’s 73 just doesn’t hold up as well to me as the others do.
I also think I’ve figured out my problem - I just don’t like Barry Bonds.
Personally, I think he’s used steroids to ramp up his home run hitting numbers.
Because I think that, I just can’t bring myself to fully recognize him for his accomplishments.
Since I mentioned steroids and records, the more I think about it, the less McGwire’s record means to me.
Barry is a great player, don’t get me wrong.
Steroids don’t teach you the hand-eye coordination to play baseball.
They don’t teach you to recognize a splitter coming at 90 miles an hour and then react accordingly.
Even though I don’t like the guy, I have to give him credit for his obvious natural talent.
But would he have enough talent to break Aaron’s record without using steroids?
That I’m not sure about.
I think Bonds will go down in history with players like Pete Rose.
People that remember seeing Charlie Hustle play will probably think of him differently than I do.
Like Bonds, he is one of the game’s best players ever.
However, there is that little matter of betting on baseball.
He will always be one of those players (along with &uot;Shoeless&uot; Joe Jackson) that falls into the &uot;He was a great player, but…&uot; category.
There is one thing that I can empathize with Barry Bonds about - I’m glad he broke the record.
As much as I don’t like it, it appears that it was an inevitability.
I’m just glad that he finally did it and got it over with so that I can stop hearing about it every time I turn on ESPN.
However, there is hope for me.
It looks like Alex Rodriguez is on pace to break Bonds’ record, wherever he finishes his career.
So far, I haven’t seen anything to make me dislike A-Rod.
I honestly don’t believe that he has used steroids or anything like that.
He’s been a great player and hitting home runs since he came into the majors.
The only thing I’ve got against him is that he plays for the Yankees.
Unless things change, I’m rooting for Rodriguez to break the record within a decade or so.
As long as he stays clean.