Aaron Judge's homers almost always impress, and No. 61 on Wednesday night was no exception — a laser-beam shot that landed in the Blue Jays bullpen amidst huge cheers from the crowd in Toronto.
Baseball history was made and the joy was palpable. The New York Yankees slugger had just tied Roger Maris for the American League, and what some fans consider the “real,” single-season home run record.
No controversy. No debate. No questions. Right?
As anyone who follows the sport knows, baseball has a unique and sometimes infuriating habit of being unable to completely enjoy its biggest moments. Instead of running from that reality, MLB appears to be embracing the chaos of debate.
Judge's chase for 61 this season and, to a lesser extent, Cardinals star Albert Pujols' quest for 700 career homers, have brought the game's prodigious record books and historical debates back to the forefront.
Even if Judge hits No. 62 in the next seven games, MLB's records clearly state Barry Bonds is the record-holder with 73 in 2001. Mark McGwire hit 70 in 1998 and 65 a year later. Sammy Sosa topped 61 three times in a four-year span from 1998 to 2001.
Those numbers came during baseball's performance-enhancing drug era.
A sizable chunk of fans believe the numbers from that era are tainted. Roger Maris Jr. — who was in attendance in Toronto on Wednesday — is one of them, saying it's Judge who is the real home run king.