Now that Ryan Howard is blasting rockets into the stands like he has his own SETI program everyone wants to start asking the inevitable question: if Howard hits 62, should we consider him the legitimate homerun king?
The problem with this question is the same problem that Roger Maris dealt with back in ’61. Suddenly, faced with an extended season and a possible threat to the homerun record, baseball wanted to ask if he should be considered the legitimate homerun king if he surpassed Babe Ruth.
The only difference is that this time around we’d be taking it away from a few guys that have actually surpassed Roger Maris instead of the taking it from the guy who actually set the new record. But with the new shroud of alleged steroid use for McGuire and Sosa and the actual steroid use by Bonds (don’t forget, the cream and the clear really are steroids) it seems like a nice option. We might be able to finally, sort of, kinda crown a new homerun king and hail the new savior of baseball.
My only problem with this question is what happens in 10 years when we find that Howard was eating a strange diet of crampbark, cleaver, and couchgrass that apparently gives you superhuman strength while not compromising your spare-tire like figure? In the end we’ll simply have to return to the age old debate of who the real king is.
These debates are hostile toward the game of baseball. They distract us from the real problems with the game. Instead of asking the question “How can we remove the ugly marks in the history of the game?” we should be worrying about how to prevent these ugly marks in the future, like what do we do about HGH and how to get Barry Bonds to retire before he taints baseball forever with 756.
Personally, I think we should simply be cheering Howard for showing us that fat is back.