The fans have spoken. In restoring a measure of respectability to the blemished game, they voted to get the #756 home-run ball branded with an asterisk before its ultimate journey to Cooperstown. Creating a PR spectacle around the fate of an infamous ball is not original, (Chi-town residents can indignantly point to the decision by online vote to destroy the Bartman ball after the Cubs’ ill-fated 2003 post season run) and the accuracy of the election about as reliable as Diebold touch-screen voting devices, it appeals to an abstract sense of justice.
This is far from compensating for the failures of “Bud-Lite” Selig to keep steroid use in check during the late 90s. Outside the city limits of San Francisco, there were few who were seriously in doubt that this record is not tainted. As for the Giants front office, it was a good move because the inevitable run-up to the record and the many milestones on the way (500, 600, then passing Willie Mays and Babe Ruth) made for great drama, packing the seats at a stadium better known for its Bay views than the quality of baseball on the field.
The good news is 2007 will also be remembered as the season Alex Rodriguez reached the 500 home-run mark, the youngest for any player to reach that total. He has easily another decade of playing time. Assuming he can hit at least thirty HR every year during the rest of his career– easy enough, he averaged over 40HR for the past ten seasons– Rodriguez will eclipse the current record and erase a disgraceful chapter from the history of the favorite pastime. Until then, the most pithy description for the state of baseball comes from the Onion: “Destruction Of National Pastime Given Two-Minute Standing Ovation”