It’s been 61 years since Roger Maris hit his 61st home run for the Yankees to break Babe Ruth’s single-season record. Now, another New York slugger in Aaron Judge joined him with his own 61st dinger of the year up in Toronto.
Maris’ family has been pretty outspoken over the years regarding the illegitimacy of Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds surpassing Roger in MLB’s record books. After Judge tied him on Wednesday night against the Blue Jays, Roger Maris Jr. once again made his thoughts crystal clear:
Roger Maris Jr. said that if Aaron Judge hits 62 home runs, he should be celebrated as the single-season home run champ.
Asked if he considers Barry Bonds and Mark McGwire illegitimate, Maris said: "I do. I think most people do."
— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) September 29, 2022
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. If I were in Maris Jr.’s position, there’s a good chance I’d feel similar because of how personal it is. But I just can’t get on board, folks.
Did McGwire and Bonds both get a little extra help during their respective record-breaking seasons? Yes, they did. This was also a function of the era in which they played, though. It’s not like anyone was reprimanding players seriously for taking performance-enhancing drugs. The league knew what was going on and let it keep happening because all those dingers helped MLB recover from 1994’s strike.
Many people talk about the steroid era and only mention hitters, as well. It’s not like there weren’t pitchers out there doing the same thing.
Taking steroids and other types of performance-enhancing drugs obviously gives players an advantage. That’s why the league (finally) has strict penalties in place for those who fail tests. One thing it can’t do for position players, though? Help them actually hit a baseball.
Yes, it can help players hit the ball farther, but they still have to make solid contact and get the ball in the air. And for someone like Bonds, there were many occasions where he only saw one or two pitches per night to hit, and he was almost always ready for it.
What’s the legitimate home run record in Judge’s eyes? He already answered that a few weeks ago, and the California native said Bonds is the rightful record holder. Clearly, I agree with him. Regardless of the extra credit Bonds used to achieve it, it’s still in the record books. I can’t just look away and say it didn’t happen because, like Judge, I also watched it with my own eyes.
Until the league actually removes it from the record books, it counts. We know they’ll never do it, though. So now that Judge has a taste of what it’s like to get this close, he’ll just have to try again next year. After all, McGwire thinks the Yankee slugger can do it.
More on ESNY:
• Mets-Marlins series in review: Eduardo Escobar plays hero
• How can the Jets beat the Steelers? Run the ball
• Marlins trying to recruit Mets fans to fill up loanDepot park
• Yankees-Blue Jays takeaways: Aaron Judge makes history, Bombers clinch
• WATCH: Michael Kay roasts Vladimir Guerrero Jr. after Yankees’ clinching win