Finally, in Game 161, Aaron Judge made history.
Judge led off the game with a 392 foot blast against Jesus Tinoco, breaking his tie with Roger Maris for the New York Yankees and American League single season records. For some, Judge is the new single season home run king, his 62nd blast now considered the record. There is, however, one very large problem with that – Barry Bonds.
Aaron Judge not close to Barry Bonds’ home run mark
Bonds is a difficult player in major league history. Based on statistical totals, he holds the single season and career home run marks. However, he was also considered one of the poster children of the Steroid Era, something that kept him out of the Hall of Fame and has tainted his accomplishments in the game.
At the same time, while the league may want Bonds and those numbers to disappear, they have not been stricken from the record book. Rob Manfred has not decreed that a giant syringe be placed next to Bonds’ numbers. Nor, for that matter, those of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.
So where does this leave Judge? Right now, in sole possession of the AL and Yankees records. He broke a record that stood for 61 years when he surpassed Maris and his 61 homers. But that is not the major league record – he would need to hit 11 more homers in a single game. If that happens, Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa would not be the only ones whose accomplishments would be called into question.
But people need an alternate reality. Sometimes, truths can be inconvenient, such as the knowledge that a.) the Steroid Era happened and b.) is not being removed from the books. Bonds is the record holder, and unless Judge, or someone else, hits 74 homers in a season, that will not change.
The same is the case for some writers around the game. Jon Heyman, for example, says that Judge is the record holder, not Bonds. Last Judge’s stat sheet was updated, he still had 62 homers; Bonds has 73. Facts and statistics do not care about anyone’s feelings or personal beliefs – very simply, 73 > 62.
There is a section of fans that will regard Aaron Judge as the home run king instead of Barry Bonds. And that section of fans is wrong.