Story of the Week

RUTH AND MARIS VS BONDS

    Babe Ruth hit 60 home runs in 1927, 74 years ago. Roger Maris hit 61 home runs in 1961, 40 years ago. Those power feats are certainly worth more than Barry Bondsí total of 73 in 2001. Actually much more. What do I mean?

    There have been many changes in baseball during the past many years. Those changes make power hittersí numbers that much more prolific today. Those changes make the power hittersí numbers of today heroic when we compare them to those of yesteryear, but itís a pure fallacy. 

    The goal of recent years has been to produce more and more scoring because it is felt that those who buy the game tickets want to see offense as opposed to low scoring pitching duels. 

    This is how baseball is achieving that goal:

1. After Bob Gibson of the Cardinals registered his incredible ERA of 1.12 for the 1968 season, the height of the pitchers mound was lowered significantly, some five inches, to make it easier to hit the ball.

2. Expansion in baseball (itís true of all major sports) has watered down the product, pitching included. They may be known as major leaguers now, but many of these pitchers would be in AAA and AA without expansion.

3. The new ballparks have more visual appeal and glitter, but the playing fields have hitter-friendly dimensions that are much more conducive to a greater number of home runs than were the older parks.

4. Itís common knowledge that the baseball is wound and sewn and constructed to travel farther than ever before. The modern-day baseball is an oversized golf ball built for distance.

5. It isnít common knowledge that the bats are juiced as well, but it certainly wouldnít surprise me in the slightest. After all, everything else is geared to produce instant offense.

    By todayís standards, Barry Bonds had an incredible 2001 season. 73 home runs and 137 RBIís while being walked 177 times is amazing; 177 walks means that pitchers took the bat out of Bondsí hands more than one AB per game. And his slugging % of .863 was fantastic.      

    This article is not intended to take anything away from Bondsí MVP year. But based on the changes that have taken place in baseball as noted above, Iím far more impressed with Babe Ruthís 60 home runs in 1927 and Roger Marisí 61 home runs in 1961 than I am with Bondsí record 73 home runs in 2001. Everything favors the sluggers of today, and the difference should be greater than just 13 home runs in 74 years and just 12 home runs in 40 years

Last Weekís Trivia

    John Wooden is only one of two individuals enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player and a coach. Who is the other one? Lenny Wilkens. He is the only individual to be selected to the list of the NBAís Top 10 Coaches and 50 Greatest Players. He has also won more games than any coach in NBA history.

Trivia Question of the Week

    "Winning isnít everything, itís the only thing." What legendary field general originated this line? See next weekís Sports Junkie for the answer.