Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In pursuit of the real

Giancarlo Stanton parked a baseball in the seats for the sixth straight game last night, for the 11th time in 12 games, for the 18th time since the All-Star break. He now has 23 home runs in his last 35 games, and now people are talking that he might hit 61, matching Roger Maris in 1961.

Which some people will tell you is the "real" home run record.

The Blob's annoying question about that: How do we know what's real and what isn't anymore?

And unless we can definitely say that what Stanton is doing is "real" (i.e., without the aid of illicit chemical enhancement), how is Barry Bonds' 73 home runs not the industry standard?

It's become chic in the last decade or so to de-legitimize what Bonds did, in part because it was Bonds -- a truly nasty person in those days -- and in part because tests in 2000 revealed traces of the fabled fabled Cream and Clear in his bloodstream. But the entire culture of the Steroids Era precludes the devaluing of his record, because so many others were chemically enhanced then, too -- including a number of the pitchers he was taking deep.

Those 73 home runs, in other words, were a product of their time, just as Maris' 61 were a product of their time. And just as what Stanton and his contemporaries are doing is a product of their time -- a time when no one knows for sure who's getting what sort of boost from what.

You'd like to think it's just fruits and vegetables and lots of milk, because if we're entering another Steroids Era, it means PED development has once again outstripped current testing procedures. And baseball is inordinately proud of those testing procedures.

In the meantime, big guys are launching baseballs into space again, just like they did 20 years ago. And Stanton?

His 23-jacks-in-35-games burst has been matched only by Sammy Sosa in 1998 (25-in-35), Bonds in 2001 (24) and Mark McGwire in 1999 (23).

In other words: Three of the biggest names of the Steroids Era, in the very heart of the Steroids Era.

So again the question: What's real? And what isn't?

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