Philip Hersh — an Olympics writer who hasn’t covered baseball in eons — has decided that today is the day to make a brave claim: someone should go back and take home runs away from Alex Rodriguez:
If baseball’s leaders were fully committed to anti-doping, there would be no way Rodriguez could get close to Bonds’ 762 (***) home runs, no matter how many more years the 39-year-old A-Rod plays.
Because baseball should wipe at least 190 home runs from Rodriguez’ current total of 654.
He wants to do this, see, because that’s the number of home runs A-Rod hit in seasons he has either admitted to or was caught using drugs. No word on why Hersh takes Rodriguez’s word for that here when he would almost certainly call A-Rod a pathological liar elsewhere, but let him go, he’s on a roll. Not as hot a roll as he was on a couple of years ago at Hall of Fame voting time, but it’s hard to beat one’s personal best.
This is obviously an idea designed to inspire a reaction, not one of any actual intellectual merit. If it was the latter, after all, Hersh would explain how to do this with other players like Barry Bonds, whose drug use has been documented but by no means specifically contained to a certain set of years. Or Willie Mays, for that matter, who took what are now classified as performance enhancing drugs. Or any number of other players. Maybe Hersh doesn’t have enough asterisks in his office to handle that part of the conversation.
In any event, we’ve covered this ground in the past. Here is why the whitewashing of baseball history is a bad idea. Here is why the hurt feelings of sports columnists are no basis to even consider trying to do so.
Now, be a good boy, Phillip, and go back and cover individual sports in which individual performances can and are routinely nullified immediately after the fact. We’ll wake you up next December when it’s time to go “stick it to the cheaters” with your Hall of Fame ballot again.