Alex Rodriguez has now passed Ken Griffey, Jr. on the all-time homerun list. He hit his 631st in Boston today. He's now in sole posession of fifth place. Only Mays, Ruth, Aaron and Bonds are ahead of him.
I remember when Junior and A-Rod were on the same team—my team. I remember when they batted second and third in the order. Griffey was the heir apparent but the girls screamed for A-Rod like he was Sinatra. I remember one girl holding a homemade sign, a placard, about how heaven must be missing an angel. That was sweet back then. How far that angel has fallen.
I still think Junior got a raw deal. If he was clean, then he had his thunder stolen by the Mark McGwires, Sammy Sosas, and Alex Rodriguezes of the world. Junior was the heir apparent and got trampled on his way to 61, which he never quite made: 56 in ’97, 56 in ’98. In single-season numbers, that’s tied for 16th all-time with Hack Wilson. Of the 15 seasons above him, we can give a pass to all the pre-1990s guys: Maris, Ruth (twice), Foxx and Greenberg. And of the remaining 10? How many are clean?
- Barry Bonds: 73
- Mark McGwire: 70
- Sammy Sosa: 66
- Mark McGwire: 65
- Sammy Sosa: 64
- Sammy Sosa: 63
- Ryan Howard: 58
- Mark McGwire: 58
- Luis Gonzalez: 57
- Alex Rodriguez: 57
Seriously, who isn’t suspect on this list? Only Ryan Howard. Everyone else is or feels tainted. If Junior was clean, then he was doing something no one else was doing legitimately. He should’ve been all alone up there. Instead it was like December 23rd at O’Hare Airport. Even single-engine planes like Brady Anderson were getting in his way.
So hat-tip and all, but like most of us I have no love for A-Rod. Even if he hadn’t tested positive for PEDs, even if he didn’t always act like the head of public relations for Alex Rodriguez, Inc., even if he didn’t abandon the Seattle Mariners for all the big bucks in Texas, his homeruns were never things of beauty. He muscled a lot of pitches over the opposite-field wall. He’d hit it and you couldn’t believe it would go out… then it would. With Junior, after his perfect swing, the only question was second or third deck.