Chris Davis And The Home Run Record Controversy
Owning the homerun record in Major League Baseball is one of the most coveted achievements of our national pastime. To break this record a player must be able to display power, plate discipline and consistency over a grueling 162 game schedule while also battling fatigue and ever mounting pressure to join baseball’s elite company. Since 1927 the only players to hold the single season home run crown are Babe Ruth (held record for 34 years), Roger Maris (37 years), Mark McGwire (3 years) and Barry Bonds (since 2001). Each player that has owned the record after Ruth instantly became surrounded with controversy. This season, when Baltimore Orioles first basemen Chris Davis clubbed his 37th home run before the All-Star break, baseball finds itself again asking the question, “who owns the home run record?”
When Maris recorded his 61st homerun in 1961, the commissioner of baseball, Ford Frick, helped sparked a national debate. Frick declared that the homerun record would not be considered “official” unless the record was set within a team’s first 154 games. Frick reasoned was that Ruth set the record during a 154 game schedule and since that time Major League Baseball had expanded their regular season to 162 games. Thus, Maris had the advantage of eight more games to accomplish the feat that he did. In recent years, Mark McGwire and now current home run champion, Barry Bonds have both seen their records become tarnished as well, due to their own controversies. So what should be recognized as the legitimate homerun record?
With each home run Davis smacks the remainder of the season; he will inch closer to cementing his name in baseball lore. If he wants to become Major League Baseball’s single season home run champion he must break the previous mark set by Barry Bonds. Critics may point out that Bonds’ record should be removed from the record book because of the strong link between the player and steroids. Since his record setting season, much information has surfaced pertaining to the rampant use of steroids in Major League Baseball. Bonds himself was not the only guilty player and according to ESPN’s summary of the Mitchell Report, 86 separate pitchers and hitters were linked to performance enhancing drugs during the early 2000s.
Unfortunately for the public, no one may truely know how many players were abusing steroids when both McGwire and Bonds enjoyed their record setting seasons. Thus, it is hard to say for a fact that PEDs gave both of the sluggers a competitive edge over the rest of the league. Without hard evidence, we are forced to look strictly at the facts and recognize Bonds as the current record holder.
If Davis can continue his torrid home run pace, expect the home run record debate to cultivate into a national conversation. Although Davis considers Maris as the true home run champion, he must eclipse the mark previously set by Bonds if he wants to laminate himself in the record book.