Apr 8, 2014, 8:29 AM EDT
40 years ago tonight Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. It’s a moment always worth re-visiting, so let’s:
I can never get enough of that video. Just how easy Aaron’s swing was, even 20 years into his career. Buckner climbing the outfield wall. Those wackos running onto the field and congratulating Aaron. I mean, the guy had death threats leading up to that moment and suddenly two dudes run up from behind you like that? If that happened today those two would be in Guantanamo or something.
One thing I love from the video is Al Downing’s recollection of it all. He gave up the homer and, unlike some other pitchers who would up on the other side of famous hits, he had absolutely no problem with it, acknowledging that, sometimes, the guy on the other side of things is going to get the best of you. And when it’s someone as insanely-talented as Hank Aaron, that’s going to be way more often.
My enjoyment of all of this stuff is unsurpassed. But it is just enjoyment.
One thing we’ve heard more and more of in the past few years is that Hank Aaron’s 715th home run remains — even to this day — the moment when baseball’s Home Run King was crowned. That when Aaron was passed by Barry Bonds in August of 2007 it somehow didn’t count. We heard it again just yesterday afternoon and I expect we’ll hear more of it today.
I understand this. From an enjoyment perspective I found Bonds hitting number 756 off Mike Bacsik to be far less moving. Indeed, it wasn’t particularly moving at all given all of the controversy surrounding Bonds by that time, the arguments it entailed and the fact that, unlike Aaron, Bonds was never anyone you rooted for, even if you admired his accomplishments. I appreciated his dominance, but I can’t say I found it aesthetically pleasing most of the time. Certainly not as pleasing as watching old video of Aaron. And, yes, even someone like me who has made a second career out of defending PED-users from excessive, counterfactual criticism, I can appreciate that Hank Aaron’s accomplishment is more impressive than Bonds’ on a qualitative level given Bonds’ drug use, the small parks he hit in, the equipment he had at his disposal and a host of other factors.
But with all respect to Mr. Aaron, I do draw the line at asserting the counterfactual. He is not baseball’s all-time home run leader. Or its “true” Home Run King or however people wish to characterize it. To say that is to go beyond expressing your enjoyment of his accomplishment and your appreciation of him as a player and claiming that those qualitative things — and whatever disdain one has for Barry Bonds — trump the actual record of history. The record of history — which is devoid of judgment and opinion — states that Barry Bonds hit more home runs than Hank Aaron did. Baseball recognizes this fact without qualification.
We should as well. To do otherwise is to invite chaos, as each of us brings our own values and assumptions into an assessment of the records. Maybe that’s easy to do with an Aaron-Bonds comparison, but what if I were to point out that the top five all-time pitching wins leaders had ridiculous advantages that Warren Spahn never had, thus rendering him the “True Wins Leader?” What if I were to note that Ty Cobb had similar disadvantages that Pete Rose never had and thus he was the True Hit King? We could do this with most records. Doing so would be silly in most instances and would render the idea of an actual record book — the thing people who call Hank Aaron the True Home Run King say they are trying to protect — and utterly meaningless thing.
So celebrate Hank Aaron. Hold him in higher esteem than you would Barry Bonds. Consider his accomplishments more impressive if you feel that way. But stop there. Don’t claim that black is white. Don’t claim that Hank Aaron is the real and true Home Run King. Because that’s just nonsense.
Oct 30, 2014, 10:35 AM EDT
“Obviously, he definitely would have been one of our starters.”
Oct 30, 2014, 10:20 AM EDT
Asked about his free agency, Panda only says: “I’m just going to celebrate.”
Oct 30, 2014, 9:50 AM EDT
Bochy has navigated the path to World Series crowns in 2010, 2012 and now 2014. In the process, the Giants have dispatched 10 consecutive postseason foes.
Oct 30, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT
There was no bitterness as Royals hitters talked about the mastery of Madison Bumgarner in this World Series.
Oct 30, 2014, 7:25 AM EDT
History’s Greatest Monsters were happy for different reasons last night.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:32 AM EDT
As he has done for a decade, really.
Oct 30, 2014, 12:15 AM EDT
The champagne and beer is flowing in the visitors clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium following the Giants’ Game 7 win …
Oct 30, 2014, 12:11 AM EDT
A breakdown of Alex Gordon’s two-out hit in the bottom of the ninth.
Oct 29, 2014, 11:57 PM EDT
Here’s the final out of Wednesday night’s Game 7 that secured the Giants’ eighth World Series title …
Oct 29, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT
A postseason legend is born
Oct 29, 2014, 11:37 PM EDT
Madison Bumgarner threw five scoreless innings to close out Game 7 on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium and allowed just one run in 21 total frames during the 2014 World Series
Oct 29, 2014, 11:20 PM EDT
Madison Bumgarner gets the win. And becomes a legend.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:55 PM EDT
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner broke Curt Schilling’s postseason innings record in the bottom of the fifth inning. And now Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News shares this nugget …
Oct 29, 2014, 10:19 PM EDT
Giants ace Madison Bumgarner entered Game 7 of the World Series in the bottom of the fifth inning. He allowed a single to the first batter but got out of that threat and set a new MLB record in the process …
Oct 29, 2014, 10:01 PM EDT
Here’s a cool photo from the Associated Press of the well-executed flip from Giants second baseman Joe Panik that started a huge doubleplay in the bottom of the third inning of World Series Game 7 …
Oct 29, 2014, 9:24 PM EDT
Imagine if they had this technology in 1985 …
Oct 29, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT
Royals catcher Salvador Perez was plunked in the left leg — just above his knee — in the bottom of the second inning by Giants starter Tim Hudson and took a long time to make it back to his feet and then down to first base. But he’s back out there behind the plate for the top of the third inning.
Oct 29, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT
This one is about pregnant women.
Oct 29, 2014, 8:05 PM EDT
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick talked Game 7 of the World Series on Wednesday afternoon …
Oct 29, 2014, 7:20 PM EDT
No matter how much excitement unfolds or how much history is made tonight, tomorrow there will be no baseball.
- Bochy’s championship resume ranks among game’s best 4
- Alex Gordon would have been a dead duck had he tried to score 39
- Video: Pablo Sandoval catches final out in foul territory, Giants win 2014 World Series 9
- Madison Bumgarner pitches the Giants to their third World Series win in five seasons 79
- Madison Bumgarner named World Series MVP … obviously 20
- Pablo Sandoval sets new postseason hits record 9
- There’s nothing better than a Game 7? Well, maybe there is. 23
- Report: Cubs hire Joe Maddon as manager 66
- A veteran says enough is enough when it comes to tributes for the soldiers (277)
- Jose Canseco shot his middle finger off (146)
- Shocker! Joe Maddon to opt out of his contract and leave the Rays (142)
- Oscar Taveras dies after car accident in the Dominican Republic (140)
- 10-0! The Royals romp, tie it up at three games a piece (109)