Hang on, you may be saying. Isn’t the real record well out of reach — the 73 homers that Barry Bonds hit in 2001? That is so. But Mr. Bonds has long labored under suspicions that he sailed to his 73 on a tide of performance-enhancing drugs. A similar taint clings to Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, both of whom also outdid (Roger) Maris in the steroid-fueled 1990s and early 2000s.
So an argument heard in some baseball-watching circles is that if Mr. (Giancarlo) Stanton hits 62, he deserves to be recognized as the real record-holder — a man who, like Maris, is unsullied by intimations of skulduggery.
— “The Baseball Theory of Relativity,” Clyde Haberman, The New York Times
Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001.
Unless we’re willing to go down the rabbit hole (I despise the terms “deep dive” and “slippery slope”) Olympic-style and review every single accomplishment for the possible taint of performance-enhancing drugs and start taking them away until we find someone who was “clean,” 73 home runs will remain the single-season record, and Bonds’ 762 will stay the career mark.
Of course, this scrubbing effort will not include David Ortiz and the 2004, 2007 and 2013 Red Sox. Let’s not get carried away.
People don’t like steroids, and people hate Barry Bonds — Alex Rodriguez’s redemption having firmed up Bonds’ place as Worst Human Being Ever — but there was a time when a lot of players used PEDs, and no one stopped them.
The records they set are the records they set, whether we like it or not.