Yankee's star Alex Rodriguez hit his 600th career home run yesterday and even before the 3rd baseman touched home plate some sports writers were adding an asterisk.
Baseball has always been a game of numbers, ratios and statistics. Players, managers, sportswriters and fans have used digits to compare and analyze the sport for over 100 years.
The most famous statistic is of course Major League Baseball’s all-time home run leader. Babe Ruth took the lead back in 1921 with 162 homers; when he retired in 1935, his mark was at 714.
Henry Aaron pushed the number to 755 ending Babe Ruth’s then 51 year reign, followed by San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds who raised the bar to 762.
But Bonds was quickly black listed and forced into an early retirement because of his alleged connection to steroids and Baseball was soon looking for a new hero, enter Alex Rod Rodriguez.
All was sunny in baseball until around February of this year, when reports started surfacing that A-Rod himself had tested positive for steroids back in 2003.
Well, with subsequent positive steroid test results from just about everybody of note in baseball over the course of the last 15 years, it’s finally being accepted that this whole era in baseball is pretty much tainted.
In other words every team had someone who was "juiced" and while that competitive edge was enjoyed by many stars we can rightfully assume entire teams were amp'd up and therefore the playing field was pretty much leveled.
It's time to end the asterisk and accept the fact that baseball was not perfect, has never been perfect and will never be perfect. But even without perfection it is still the game that ties our summers together year after year. It echos our past, highlights our present and points to the future.
To Alex Rodriguez's home run number 600, the only thing you can add is an exclamation point.