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Alex Rodriguez and the Asterisk

Yesterday, Alex Rodriguez became the youngest player in Major League Baseball history to hit 600 home runs, only the 7th ever to hit that milestone… Finally (A-Rod had gone 46 at-bats after his 599th home run before breaking the 600 mark). At 35 years and 8 days old, Rodriguez beat Babe Ruth to number 600 by just over a year and a half. And to reach a milestone that only seven players have ever reached over the course of more than a century is absolutely amazing. However, the big home run wasn’t nearly the event it could or should have been, because of A-Rod’s 2009 admission that he took performance enhancing drugs.

While the home run got an unspeakable amount of press (this article included), nearly every article from an unbiased source (e.g. NOT yankees.com) had to mention the steroids. There’s just no way around it; yesterday, Alex hit his 600th* home run, not his 600th home run.

The Steroids Era has forever changed the game of baseball. In the last eight years, four players have joined the 600 home run club. Of those four (Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey, Jr., Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez), three have taken or have been seriously accused of taking steroids (Bonds, Sosa, Rodriguez). Before 2002, only Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, and Willie Mays had hit 600, in over 100 years of professional baseball.

In the late 1990’s and into the early 2000’s, steroids use was rampant throughout the game. There have been reports that up to 90% of the league was using performance enhancing drugs. I’m definitely not here to argue about the morality of the Steroids Era or whether players were wrong for using those substances. My point is that the Steroids Era undoubtedly changed public perceptions about the game and the players, the milestones that were reached, and the records that were broken during that time period.

sethmeyers21: Congratulations A-Rod. I will never remember where I was the day you hit 600.

yourk44: A-Rod hits career home run #600 against the Jays. It’s a great day for steroids.

foxnews: A-Rod hits his 600th homer (including a few without any help from steroids!) http://fxn.ws/9rZAkf

These tweets are just a few that I saw when I searched for “A-Rod” on Twitter last night. There was a mix of positive and negative tweets, but the negative seemed to substantially outweigh the positive.

Steroids have forever tainted the game of baseball. Records that were broken during this era will always be questioned. Alex Rodriguez is just one of many players who will eternally live with the asterisk, despite hitting a majority of his home runs without the assistance of performance enhancers.

Note: It was fifteen minutes before they discussed Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run on Baseball Tonight last night. An attempt to get people to stay tuned in? I think not.

What are your thoughts on the Steroids Era? How did the widespread use of steroids in baseball affect your perception of the game and the records broken during the late 1990’s and early-to-mid 2000’s? What do you think about A-Rod breaking 600 home runs?

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Images by Keith Allison

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2 Responses to Alex Rodriguez and the Asterisk

  1. Mike August 5, 2010 at 11:48 pm #

    I personally think he should have an asterisk next to his name. I know he was one of many who used steroids and pumped up their stats but I'd hate to see him own the overall HR record. I say any records he sets are now tainted.

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