A new record was set in baseball last week. You may have missed it since an arrogant big hitter didn’t set it. The record was set by Ichiro Suzuki. He didn’t stand and gawk at his accomplishment while taking his sweet time rounding the bases; he hustled to first base, stood there, tipped his batting helmet to the crowd, went over to the former record holder’s daughter and grandchildren and shook their hands. It was very classy, but I guess class doesn’t go far with people today. They want a steroid laden star that can wear armor and show off trotting around the bases.
It doesn’t make sense to me that a 30-40 year old record (73 home runs) gets more attention than an 84 year old record (262 hits). It doesn’t make sense to me that 73 is a greater number than 262. Baseball is a game of skill where players like Maddux, Ichiro, and Clemens use their knowledge of the game, superior accuracy, and speed to confound other players. It’s turning into a game where oversized ogres step up to the plate and swing as hard as they can so they can take a stroll around the bases. You hardly see any suicide squeeze plays anymore: the bunt is almost non-existant. Instead, we get a new term (“walk off” home run) and lower batting averages. The last time anyone made a run at a .400 batting average was the late 90’s with Larry Walker and Tony Gwynn. Pitching has gotten better, yes, but accuracy declines when players concentrate on getting the ball over the fence rather than getting the ball in play.