Thursday, August 5, 2010

New York Times-Harvey Araton/A Chance To Re-Examine Hank Aaron

photo credit: Chicago Sun Times
(Essay by Harvey Araton)

Alex Rodriguez was hailed as the golden one, the natural, the five-tool template almost certain to wind up with baseball’s most cherished cherry on top.

He may yet end up with the career home run record, but the evidence is mounting that it will not come as once envisioned, with Rodriguez as ethically preferable to Barry Bonds or even as physically superior to Hank Aaron.

Rodriguez’s 600th home run, slugged off Toronto’s Shaun Marcum on Wednesday afternoon at Yankee Stadium, made him the seventh, and youngest, player to achieve that milestone. Now he begins the climb toward 700 before — barring impairment or shocking deterioration — taking aim at Babe Ruth (714), Aaron (755) and Bonds (762).

But how will Rodriguez get there — in a slugging frenzy, like Bonds, or as a 40-something designated hitter, hanging on as much for the record as for his paycheck?

Remember how Aaron’s career achievements were portrayed as Bonds obliterated baseball’s geriatric slugging standards and ultimately a nation’s believability? Compared with a 37-year-old who clubbed 73 home runs in 2001, Aaron was mildly derided as an earnest toiler who never hit 50 in any one of his 23 major league seasons.

(click here to read the full text of Harvey Araton's essay on the NY Times website)

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