Of all the professional sports, baseball is arguably most attuned to statistics and records. When the sports fan is quizzed on various milestones, it is likely that certain baseball records will be the first that come to mind.
These include the most hits, hitting streaks, and consecutive games played. Of all the baseball milestones, the all-time home run record may be the most revered. Because of the ongoing allegations of steroid use, many baseball fans are bothered that Barry Bonds currently has the record. In past years, these fans drew comfort in the fact that Alex Rodriguez and his clean reputation were on pace to break the record. Of course, A-Rod eventually had his own steroid scandal, which damaged his reputation. Still, some fans would rather see Rodriguez break the record than allow Bonds and his steroid history to remain on top. However, here are a few reasons why Alex Rodriguez may struggle to break baseball’s most coveted record.
Starting to age
A player’s career can move pretty fast, particularly for adult fans that follow the game for a number of years. Rodriguez is no longer the 18-year-old prospect that Seattle drafted number one overall in 1993. A-Rod turned 35 in the middle of the 2010 season, which means that he may have 5-6 years left in his career. Some players have gone beyond the age of 40, but few hitters in today’s modern era are able to maintain productivity as they get very old in baseball years.
By the numbers
Rodriguez is on pace for about 30 home runs in 2010. If he hit 30, he would have 613 for his career. That would put him 149 home runs shy of the record set by Barry Bonds. Essentially, if A-Rod hit 30 home runs for five more seasons, he would break the record. The question is whether A-Rod can maintain that sort of pace. After hitting 54 home runs in 2007, Alex hit 35 in 2008, 30 in 2009, and is on pace of 30 in 2010. Typically, numbers like these do not start to climb as players get into their late-30s.
Another problem with A-Rod’s chase is that he is starting to show signs of physical wear. He has not played 162 games since 2005. In 2008, he played in 138 games and in 2009 he only played in 124. Nagging injuries, including problems with his hip, may slow Rodriguez to the point where he cannot maintain the rigor of a full baseball season. This could have a profound impact on his chase for the record.
No more “juice”
The doubt that hangs over Rodriguez is the same cloud that hangs over a number of other players. No one is quite sure what impact steroids have had on Rodriguez’s performance over the years, but it is reasonable to assume that A-Rod is trying to stay away from performance-enhancing drugs after the scandal of his prior admittance. Of course, if the drugs were helping him, he is now missing a potential physical asset. He may currently be “clean,” but he may also be weaker and less able to return quicker from injury.
Why it might still happen
Despite all of these factors, it is possible that A-Rod will eventually break the record. There is no question that A-Rod is one of the more talented players of all time, and his sheer physical ability may allow him to maintain enough health over the next few years to make a serious run at the record. In addition, Rodriguez appears to be the type of player that would want to reach this personal milestone, and chances are the Yankees would keep him around if he got close, if only to take advantage of the media coverage. The next five years could be very interesting for the career of Alex Rodriguez.
Steroids in sport? It’s called chitting! Simple as that – and I was always p***ed off when my beloved sports hero turned out to be a doper!