Tuesday, March 29, 2005

What are the ND taxpayers paying for?

Does anyone else ever hear the phrase "contempt of congress" and wonder where to volunteer?

OK, this is not, technically, Congress, but another legislator who apparently has nothing valuable or useful to do with his time. "A North Dakota legislator is trying to muscle Roger Maris' 61-homer season back into baseball's record books because of allegations that the three players who have surpassed him did so with the help of steroids." Honestly, is this what the taxpayers of North Dakota are paying him for? (Of course, useless mischief like this does occupy time that would otherwise probably be spent committing real mischief, but still...)

When Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's record in 1961, he became the Major League record holder. He did it in an expansion year, he did it in a year when the schedule expanded by 8 games, he did it with a lower SLG percentage than Ruth, in many more at-bats, with a much lower home-run/at-bat ratio, in a league where the average home-run/at-bat was much higher. But he did it, and it became the Major League record. Maris was the first one to hit 61 home runs. After he'd done it, he became the record holder. Period. People are aware of all of the circumstances around it, and take that into account when evaluating the record, but he held the record. No one had hit more HR in a season.

Now people have. People with different equipment, playing in different ballparks, against different pitchers. People who may have used drugs that were not available to Maris. All of the context is different, and people will take that into account when evaluating the record. But the fact is that the record was broken. Mark McGwire hit 70 HR in a Major League season. Barry Bonds hit 73. Whatever they did or didn't do to accomplish those feats, those feats were accomplished. It would be utter idiocy for Major League baseball to pretend that no one's ever hit more HR in a season than the 61 that Maris hit. And utter idiocy is too kind a description for what Sen. Heitkamp is doing...

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