"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Birthdays Today

Today is the 76th birthday of the great Hank Aaron -- the real home run champ with 755 lifetime HRs without steroids. 

(To be fair, I think Barry Bonds is a great player, one of the greatest ever, who should be in the Hall of Fame.  He used steroids in an era when a lot of players did, an era in which baseball looked the other way.   I can't really blame him that much -- if I had an opportunity to make tens of millions of dollars playing baseball, I am pretty sure my morality wouldn't extend to not using a drug that is commonly prescribed for many valid medical purposes.  But he's not the HR champ for the simple reason that he only beat Aaron by 7 HRs, and he hit 317 of those after age 35 when he was fairly obviously on the juice; Aaron hit only 245 after age 35.  At age 30, Aaron had 366 HRs, while Bonds had only 292.   Both great players, but Aaron wins the comparison when you consider only Bonds' "clean" years.) 

In any event, Aaron was a truly great player and one of the most remarkably consistent players ever.   From age 21 (in 1955) to age 39 (in 1973), Aaron never hit fewer than 24 HRs in a single year, hit fewer than 30 only four times, and had 38 or more HRs eleven times; he had more than 100 RBIs eleven times and scored more than 100 runs fifteen times; and his lowest slugging percentage in those 19 years was .498.  He received MVP votes in every one of those years, but astonishingly only won one award, in 1957 with the Milwaukee Braves.   He has also, by all accounts, always been a true gentleman.

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