In 2001, when Barry Bonds was hitting home runs at an alarming rate on the way to setting the new Major League Baseball single-season home run record, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis was 15 years old.
Like many baseball fans who were young at the time, Davis still has a bitter taste in his mouth about what Bonds did, considering the steroids allegations that followed Bonds breaking the single-season record with 73 dingers and eventually the all-time homer record.
Davis, who has 37 home runs at the All-Star break and is on track to surpass the 61 home runs hit by Roger Maris, who held the record for decades, has said that he thinks 61 is the true mark. He reiterated that this week at the All-Star festivities.
“It was obviously disheartening to find out down the road what came about in [the Steroids Era], but in my opinion, 61 is the record, and I think most fans agree with me about that,” Davis said Monday night.
Davis may be right about the fans. But among major leagues, he’s in rare company.
Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports polled 15 All-Stars and found that 14 — including Davis’ Orioles teammate, Adam Jones — consider Bonds the rightful holder of the record, even if his 73 came with some aid.
Davis has been fending off accusations of performance-enhancing drug use of his own, and Reds first baseman Joey Votto added another ugly shade to the debate this week by suggesting that Davis wants to beat 61 — and have it mean something — because of other motives.
“If Chris feels like 61 is the home run record, maybe he’s just selfishly pegging that number as the home run record so if he passes it, he can wear a crown or something like that,” Votto said. “There would be a lot of money in that.”
Any way it’s sliced, the home run record has become forever tainted.