Can you put the names of Mark McGwire, Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Sammy Sosa in the same group with names such as Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle?
Until recently you would have to say, “Of course.” Baseball players of the past are nearly incomparable to the baseball players of today.
Baseball players now have better workout regimens, more time to work on their technique, and better ways of evaluating how to improve.
Baseball players in the past were lucky if they got to work out with weights. They sometimes had to take off-season jobs to keep money coming in, and the idea of watching tape to improve your technique was almost never done.
The size and stature of present-day players is noticeably different from others throughout history.
For example, when heavy hitting Jimmie Foxx was a member of the Philadelphia Athletics in 1932 he hit 58 home runs and had 169 RBI. Foxx was considered a man of sizeable stature, and was given the intimidating nickname, “The Beast.” Foxx stood at exactly six foot tall and weighed 195 pounds.
So compared to today’s standards, who would you most expect to measure up to Foxx’s size and stature?
How about the starting shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds, Barry Larkin?
That’s right: Barry Larkin, 40, stands at six feet tall and 190 pounds. (Five pounds less than Foxx.)
Can you imagine Larkin being known as a “Beast” because of his size?
If anything, Larkin is known for his speed and agility, something that is rare among today’s bigger players.
There is another reason you can’t compare present players with past players: illegal substances.
Major League Baseball players use steroids and other illegal substances in order to enhance their performance on the field.
The question is, how on earth does baseball fix this problem, and do the fans even care?
As a lifelong baseball fan, I do care about what is going on in the game and how things get done.
I don’t want to see records illegally broken. It puts a negative light on the history of the game and tarnishes the memory of the players who first set the records based on nothing but raw talent.
If I were a casual baseball fan, one who went to the ballpark to see home runs and high scoring games, I probably wouldn’t be so offended.
I would probably be saying that as long as it’s entertaining and my body isn’t being harmed, then who cares what the players choose to do?
Baseball must make a stand. They must put an end to the use of illegal substances, or they must give players precautions about the drugs and let them make decisions on their own.
I hope it’s the former.
Barry Larkin a beast? You have to be kidding me.