When is somebody going to stand up and say, “Something’s fishy!” about all these home runs being hit this year?
While we’ve been lamenting the decline of Barry Bonds, the evidence has been mounting around the rest of Major League Baseball that home runs are being hit at a something’s-fishy pace.
Ryan Howard of the Philadelphia Phillies tied the team’s season home run mark when he hit his 48th homer — equaling Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt’s mark — on Aug. 29.
Schmidt needed a complete season, while Howard tied him with 31 games left to play.
Alfonso Soriano of the Washington Nationals tied his career high of 39 home runs on Aug. 13 with his team still having 45 games to play. 45!
Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals set a record for home runs in April with 14, and had 25 by the end of May.
He has 39 in 113 games and don’t forget, Albert missed 17 games in June with an injury.
Carlos Beltran of the New York Mets has hit 39 homers this season, having never hit more than 29 before. And there’s still a month left for him to play.
Now, I have to admit my son says I have a conspiracy theory about everything, but this home run thing is completely off the charts.
It feels just like 1987 when the “juiced” ball appeared. That’s the year Mark McGwire hit 49 homers as a rookie, Wade Boggs hit 24 homers (and never hit more than 11 the rest of his career), Andre Dawson hit a career-high 41 homers (and never hit more than 31 in any other year) and Will Clark went from 11 as a rookie to 35 as a second-year player (and never hit more than 29 the rest of his career.
And it’s not just the totals. It’s the swings that send the baseballs flying out of the park. On Tuesday in Atlanta, Barry Bonds hit a home run off a swing that looked like he was dropping a heavy rug off his shoulder. He bent over, barely got the bat on a pitch low in the strike zone, and away it went. Over the center-field wall to boot.
Earlier this season, I saw Pujols hit a ball off the end of the bat, low and away, out of the strike zone, that cleared the wall by 10 rows. I don’t care how strong you say he is, it didn’t look right.
I’m not saying that there haven’t been plenty of big swings that have made solid contact, followed by the ball going out of the park. I’m talking about watching pitches that fool hitters that leave the yard.
And don’t think this isn’t the perfect time for a nice run of home runs.
Is it just me, or did Major League Baseball just come out of a tough time with all that attention being paid to performance-enhancing drugs? What better way to get everybody’s attention off that than with a year of home run hitting.
There’s been plenty of complaints about the balls being used in Colorado, so if Major League Baseball is willing to adjust the results there, why not other places? Why not help the game along with a season of new stars hitting home runs in bunches.
That way the game won’t miss Barry when he’s gone.
So I’m doing it. I’m standing up and saying, “Something’s fishy!” about all these home runs being hit.
Now I feel better.
Tim Liotta hosts the weekend edition of “Sportsphone 680” on KNBR (680 AM).