Baseball won't be purging 'tainted' statistics
There never really was an asterisk next to Roger Maris' home run record, except in the minds of some fans.
Nearly half a century after Maris' run to 61, there are new calls for baseball to attach a disclaimer to — or even disqualify — the records set during the so-called steroids era of the late-1980s into the mid-2000s.
Mark McGwire*• Barry Bonds*?
It won't happen. Even after McGwire's recent confession of steroid use, Major League Baseball has no plans to denote his or anyone else's statistics.
So, there will be no asterisks. That's just fine with many people in the industry, including Fay Vincent, the former MLB commissioner who undid Maris' scarlet letter almost 20 years ago.
"An asterisk is kind of meaningless," Vincent told the Tribune-Review. "Maybe it makes you feel better to say, 'That record has an asterisk by it, so it doesn't have the same quality as one that doesn't.' I say that's silly. We don't need the asterisk. We just need the truth.
"Sunlight is the greatest of disinfectants and it will disinfect those records. Tell the public about Bonds, (Sammy) Sosa and McGwire and let (fans) make the adjustments. Henry Aaron, Roger Maris and Babe Ruth will look a lot better, and that's fair enough."
In 1961, Maris hit 61 home runs, one more than Ruth collected in 1927. However, Maris reached his mark during a 162-game season. Ruth's season was 154 games.
Commissioner Ford Frick, at the prompting of New York sportswriter Dick Young — a close friend of Ruth's — ruled that both New York Yankees sluggers must be listed as record-holders. Baseball had no single official record book, so the "asterisk" existed only in theory.
In 1991, Vincent overturned Frick's decision. Maris was the lone single-season home run king until 1998, when McGwire clubbed 70 homers. Three years later, Bonds went deep 73 times.
McGwire recently confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs — steroids and human growth hormones — during his record-setting seasons. Bonds, however, has never made a similar admission, despite public skepticism and growing evidence against him.
"I think Bonds will eventually admit what he did," Vincent said.
Vincent believes the records set by Bonds, McGwire and others should stand. But he also does not expect those players to ever be elected to the Hall of Fame.
McGwire was listed on just 23.7 percent of the ballots this year, well short of the 75 percent necessary for induction. Bonds, who hasn't officially retired, is not yet eligible.
The Hall of Fame addresses the PEDs issue in an exhibit entitled, "Today's Game." But the display does not refer to specific players, records or incidents.
"We want to simply document and present history without regard and allow visitors to use their knowledge and opinions and form their own conclusions," Hall spokesman Brad Horn said.
The ash-colored Rawlings bat McGwire used to swat his 70th home run remains on display in the Hall's museum. There are no plans to remove it.
The Society for American Baseball Research also takes a neutral stance on stats from the steroids era.
"I don't believe in asterisks," SABR records committee chairman Lyle Spatz said. "We are not moralists. A record is a record. A home run is a home run."
Spatz likened stats from the steroids era to the numbers put up by pitchers Don Sutton and Gaylord Perry, who both doctored the ball during their careers.
"We don't make adjustments for (anyone's) cheating," Spatz said. "We just count the numbers."
It also seems unfair to single out McGwire and Bonds for asterisks. Steroids were not officially banned by baseball until 1991, and even now no test for PEDs is infallible.
"We still don't know — and we may never know — the full extent of steroid use in baseball," said Tim Newman, associate professor of sports management at York (Pa.) College.
The more time that passed after Maris launched his 61st homer, the less people cared about the "asterisk" attached to his record. Will this also be the case for the steroids era?
"Five years from now, the casual fan who doesn't care about historical records won't care," said Rob Tuchman, executive vice-president of the marketing firm Premier Global Sports. "But there are so many people who really do care about the integrity of the game, and it's a huge issue for them.
"What will keep lingering is the issue of where's the proper place for these players when we put them in the history books. How do you judge a guy like Mark McGwire?"
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police arrest man believed to have killed officer
- New Kensington man killed in North Buffalo crash
- Police officer fatally shot in New Florence; suspect in custody
- Zatkoff’s, Malkin’s heroics not enough as Oilers down Penguins in shootout
- Aliquippa wins 16th WPIAL title, ends South Fayette’s 44-game winning streak
- Steelers find success vs. NFC
- Four downs: Steelers might still be Adams’ best bet
- Central Catholic wins 5th WPIAL football title
- As historic breakup nears, Alcoa works to redefine its ‘advantage’
- Indiana Twp. liver transplant recipient, 2, takes steps toward normal life
- Drones hover at top of holiday wish lists