Tag Archives: Babe Ruth

700 HR Club needs slight revision

OK, I am going to throw a little bit of cool — not cold — water on any mention of an exclusive baseball club that now includes the name of a living baseball legend.

St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols smashed the 700th home run of his legendary career. There likely will be a smattering more before his final regular season comes to an end. Pujols said he plans to retire at the end of the season.

All the baseball pundits, scribes, commentators keep saying Pujols is now the “fourth member” of this club. Two of the preceding members are legendary baseball figures: Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron. The third one gives me trouble: Barry Bonds.

You see, Bonds finished as the No. 1 HR hitter in MLB history after cheating his way through several seasons partaking of performance-enhancing drugs. He hit 762 home runs; Aaron is next with 755; the Bambino finished with 714.

I want to point out something, too, about Aaron and Ruth. Aaron had to face down stark racism and threats against his life when he — as a Black man — chased down the longstanding record held by a white man, Ruth.

As for Ruth, he spent the first several seasons in the big leagues as a pitcher, meaning that he didn’t get to bat every day. It’s been said of Ruth that had he continued to pitch full-time through all those years in a New York Yankees uniform, he’d still be in the Hall of Fame. The Yankees put him in the outfield, though, realizing they needed his bat every day in the lineup.

It worked well for the Yanks.

Barry Bonds isn’t in the Hall of Fame. I don’t know if he’ll ever get in. He’s been tarnished and sullied by his own misdeeds, juicing up his body with PEDs, steroids and assorted other banned chemicals.

Albert Pujols? He has said MLB can “test me every day” for illegal drugs. They won’t find anything in his system. I believe him.

For what it’s worth — and it probably isn’t much — I still consider Henry Aaron to be MLB”s home run king.


Does Pujols come back once more?

I don’t follow Major League Baseball the way I did as a kid, but I am enjoying watching one of the game’s all-time greats having a fabulous “final season” to a legendary career.

Albert Pujols is back in St. Louis and is bashing the hell out of baseballs on his way to the Hall of Fame in five years — or maybe six.

He says this is the final year of a 22-season career. He has hit 694 home runs. He has more than 3,300 base hits. He struggled the past couple of seasons, but he has found his swing again.

He wants to hit 700 dingers. Here’s my thought.

What, though, might he do if he gets to, say, 699 home runs when the season ends? Does he walk away? Or does he talk to Cardinals’ head office about coming back for one more go ’round.

Think of it, he could maintain his part-time playing status but get enough at bats to go after Babe Ruth’s record of 714. He won’t catch Henry Aaron (the real home-run king) or the imposter, Barry Bonds. But the Bambino’s mark might be worth chasing.

But … if he hits the 700-HR mark when the season ends, we’ll all say goodbye to one of the all-time greats of an all-time great game.


Hall of Fame induction finally goes unanimous

I am delighted to see that the great “closer” Mariano Rivera became the first Major League baseball player to win induction into the Hall of Fame unanimously.

Rivera could be depended on to finish off a game by coming in during the eighth or ninth inning to get the final outs. He belongs in MLB’s Hall of Fame.

However, I have to wonder: What in the world took the baseball writers so long to induct someone unanimously?

How in the world did, oh, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Johnny Bench, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio — I could go on forever — fail to obtain unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame?

I can see how some of the all-time greats might have gotten “no” votes from the baseball writers. Ted Williams was pretty much despised by the writers who covered him, and he returned the negative vibes during his entire career. But still . . .

My bet for the first unanimous pick would have been Derek Jeter, the retired New York Yankee infielder who soon will become eligible for HofF induction soon.

Whatever. It’s politics, I suppose.

Now that the baseball scribes have broken the unanimous-vote ice, there might be more to come. That would be my hope.

Gangs are for cowards

I just stumbled on a quote attributed to a most unlikely source.

It comes from the late Mickey Mantle, the one-time New York Yankee slugger and athletic descendant of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.

The quote attributed to The Mick is this: A team is where a boy can prove his courage on his own. A gang is where a coward goes to hide.

Interesting, yes? Of course it is.

Mantle wasn’t known as a philosopher. He was a plain-spoken kid from Oklahoma who could hit baseballs farther than anyone, run faster than anyone, field his position better than anyone. He was the real deal, the total package.

Mickey was my favorite baseball player as I was growing up. I cheered for him when he did well, and slumped a bit when he got hurt … which was entirely too often during his Hall of Fame career.

These few words, though, ring so true to me.

I’ve heard for longer than I care to admit that the gang culture becomes “family” to young men and women who have no real family at home. They run into the embrace of others who adopt them as one of their own.

But then these “family members” subject them to initiation rites. They haze them. They threaten them if they don’t do what they’re told.

I am left to wonder whether it’s more courageous to refuse to do what they are ordered to do than to follow orders blindly. Courage would lead them to defy those who profess to adopt them as family. Cowardice leads them to a path of mindless compliance.

Mickey Mantle was known as a “great teammate.” He treated all the players on his New York Yankees team the same, whether they were all-stars — as he was — or end-of-the-bench substitutes who saw little, if any, playing time.

Mickey Mantle must have known more than many of us give him credit for knowing about the courage of belonging to a team and the cowardice of adhering to gang life.

Who in the world knew?

Slugger tells it straight about home run record

Giancarlo Stanton is a young man after my own heart.

The Miami Marlins baseball star has declared that Roger Maris’s 61 home runs during the 1961 season is the legitimate single-season record. Why would the Marlins’ slugger say that? It’s likely because he stands a chance of hitting more than what Maris hit during his epic home run battle with New York Yankees teammate Mickey Mantle.

Maris’s total no longer is the major-league record — officially. The record actually belongs to Barry Bonds, who hit 73 during the height of the Steroid Era in Major League Baseball. Indeed, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa also hit more home runs in a single season than Maris, but they, too, were juiced up with performance-enhancing drugs.

ā€œWhen you grow up watching all the old films of Babe Ruth and [Mickey] Mantle and those guys, 61 has always been that printed number as a kid,ā€ Stanton said.

I am one baseball fan who has serious trouble accepting Bonds as the home run king, either for a single season or a career. I continue to consider Henry Aaron to be the all-time HR monarch, as he hit 755 dingers during his storied career. He did so without the chemical help that Bonds — who hit 762 home runs during his career — received along the way.

Maris surpassed Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs — which The Babe set in 1927 — while battling Mickey Mantle during the entire 1961 season. They were neck and neck all season long. Then Mantle went down with an injury late in the season — and became his buddy Roger’s greatest cheerleader as Maris continued his chase for baseball immortality.

That’s the record worth chasing now.Ā To that end, I am pulling for Giancarlo Stanton to surpass it.

A-Rod set to return; good luck with the circus

Baseball fan that I continue to be — despite the game’s many steroid-induced blemishes andĀ embarrassments — I await the return of a guy I once hoped would become the next all-time home run leader.

Not any longer do I wish that for Alex Rodriguez.


The New York Yankees slugger is coming back from a season-long suspension for using performance enhancing drugs. Today he issued a hand-written apology of sorts to baseball fans. As USA Today reported, the lack of a press conference and all the hoopla surrounding it might have been the smartest thing A-Rod has done in years.

One of the things I’m waiting to see is how the Yankees receive A-Rod in the clubhouse.

The Captain, Derek Jeter, has retired. The Yankees were Jeter’s team, even as A-Rod arrived years ago amid considerable fanfare and hype. He was thought to be the next great Yankee slugger — following in the steps of The Babe, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Yes, he put up some big numbers. Then came the suspicion about his use of PEDs. After that came the results of a probe, then the suspension and then the confession. Today the apology arrived.

Spring training is about to begin and my sense is that the Yankees aren’t going to welcome A-Rod back with any inflated enthusiasm.

You see, unlike some of the great Yankees of the past — and I have Mantle and Jeter in mind when I say this — A-Rod never has been a great teammate. He’s not the kind of superstar who takes younger players under his wing, mentors them, or befriends the utility infielder just called up from the minor leagues —Ā as TheĀ Mick used to do when he was hittingĀ jaw-dropping home run blastsĀ more than 50 years ago.

I, for one, once rooted for A-Rod to break the home run record set by another PED-tainted ballplayer, Barry Bonds. For that matter, I still consider Henry Aaron to be the all-time HR king.

Rodriguez enters this season with 654 home runs. He needs 109 more to pass Bonds. He’s also 39 years of age. Do the math. He isn’t likely to get to 763 home runs.

Too bad for that.

Still, his return will be worth watching. If only I couldĀ cheerĀ A-Rod back to the game many of us still love to watch.


Jeter has joined ranks of all-time Yankee greats

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle.

Those four men, in order, became the respective faces of the New York Yankees, without question the most storied franchise in Major League Baseball and arguably the most storied, revered and hated franchise in all of professional sports.

Let’s add another name that list of all-timers: Derek Jeter.

Jeter, the Yankees’ shortstop for the past two decades, has announced he will retire at the end of the upcoming season.


He’s going out on top, on his terms, with his head held high and proud and with his standing intact as one of the game’s greatest players.

Think about the four men whose ranks he’s already joined. Ruth didn’t play his entire career in New York; he started out as a pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, had his greatest years as a Yankee, then was traded to the Boston Braves. Still, does anyone doubt he belongs as the charter member of the Yankee pantheon? Hardly. Gehrig played his entire career with the Yankees, alongside both Ruth and DiMaggio, who came along near the end of the Iron Horse’s stellar career. DiMaggio fashioned his own standing among the Yankee greats over 15 seasons. Then came the Mick — the guy I grew up watching. He was star-crossed, injury-riddled, but still managed a career that would be the envy of virtually every player who’s ever suited up.

Derek Jeter’s career numbers already reflect stratospheric status in hits, games played, at-bats, runs scored.

And he did it all with class and grace, becoming the Yankees’ captain and the go-to guy in the clubhouse.

Pretenders would come along to become the next great Yankee hitter, only to fall short. Alex Rodriguez, the disgraced third baseman who’s going to sit out the 2014 season as punishment for his use of performance enhancing drugs, has more home runs over his career. He’s now been sent to the sidelines, possibly never to return to the game. Let’s not forget that relief pitching ace Mariano Rivera retired at the end of the 2013 season and he, just like Jeter, is headed for the Hall of Fame.

All that said, Jeter will get to take the bows on his own, without the shadow of his cheating teammate — A-Rod — looming in the background.

That, too, is as it should be.

Implode the Dome … if it must go

The voters of Houston have spoken. The Astrodome, once called the Eighth Wonder of the World, appears headed for destruction.

Houston voters said “no” to a plan to turn the Dome into an exhibit hall. It would have saved the place, kept it erect and standing proud.


It’s not going to happen. Destruction appears imminent.

Allow me this one request if that’s the fate awaiting the Dome.

Blow it up all at once. Implode the place. Knock it down with one fell swoop. I’m thinking “big bang” here.

The alternative to imploding the structure would be too difficult to watch over the long haul. Knocking it down with a wrecking ball would take an interminable length of time. I don’t know if I could stand seeing pictures of the place being taken down piece by piece.

It’s kind of like watching a prey animal being eaten alive by a predator.

I get that Houston’s voters have the final say on the Dome’s future. I also get that New York watched as the House that Ruth Built — aka Yankee Stadium — was taken down to make way for a “New Yankee Stadium.” The Dome isn’t even as elegant as the old Yankee crib.

I’m still saddened by the result of the vote in Houston.

So, if it’s meant to be that the Dome must go, do it quickly. Please