Whacky baseball world

Published 1:10 am Wednesday, May 16, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
The day of action in Major League Baseball Monday was incredible. There were two pitchers who had outstanding games going and those outstanding games were ruined by the hitters on the other team.
Greg Maddux, a sure fire Hall of Famer on the first ballot, had a perfect game going through five innings. This is a feat ESPN reported Maddux has accomplished three times in his career following Monday night. But Cincinnati's Jose Valentin busted the perfect game and no hitter in the sixth inning with a double. Maddux went on to allow one run on five hits in his first complete game in two years.
The other pitcher who almost accomplished a great feat is on the opposite end of the career flow chart. Jason Bergmann is in his third year in the Show and he had a no hitter going through seven innings, but Atlanta's Brian McCann ruined the no hitter and the shutout in the eighth inning with his third home run of the season.
So overall it was a good day for pitching in the majors. And it has been that way all season, as there have been many studies showing how the home run volume has dropped since last year. This might be evidence of the stronger drug testing system actually working.
One can only hope that is what this proves. Now you will always have freaks of nature like Alex Rodriguez who is already one of the best hitters in the game and he goes on a 14-home run tear in the opening month of the season. But for the most part it seems like baseball is cleaning up its act.
And the funniest fact that is not being talked about a lot is how bad Albert Pujols is doing this year. He has never hit for an average under .314, hit less than 34 home runs and 41 in the past four years, knocked in less than 117 runs, but as of Tuesday he is hitting a meager .239 with six home runs and only 19 RBIs.
This might be the proof everyone needs to convict Pujols of steroid use and get some of the press off of Barry Bonds. But the pressure on Bonds will not be lifted considering he only needs 11 home runs to break Hank Aaron's coveted career home run record of 755.
This is one of the most hallowed records in all of sports and all the media attention will be on how Major League Baseball handles the acknowledgement towards Bonds since he is a suspected steroid user. Bonds should not be treated like the red herring. If he breaks the record he should be commended.
This might sound like a thing only a 5-year-old would say, but everyone else was doing it. Steroid use was not limited to Bonds, or hitters for that matter. There have been pitchers linked with steroids, but there is not as much made of it for some reason.
All in all, this year has been a great year for baseball and it should not be ruined by the sport not celebrating the falling of its most sacred record. Home runs are down, so by cause and effect, so are steroids and the black eye is fading.
Matthew Nascone is sports editor for the Atmore Advance. He can be reached at 368-2123 or sports@atmoreadvance.com

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