Ken Rosenthal: ‘It Can’t Be Denied That Barry Bonds Broke Hank Aaron’s Record’

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(Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

(Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Tuesday marked the 40th anniversary of Henry Aaron’s 715th home run – the home run that broke Babe Ruth’s previous record of 714. Although Aaron, who finished with 755 home runs, has since been passed by Barry Bonds (762), many still consider him the true home run king.

Even, it appears, Bud Selig – despite the fact that the MLB commissioner claims there was never a Steroid Era.

“He shouldn’t have said it that way,” MLB on Fox and MLB Network analyst Ken Rosenthal said on The John Feinstein Show, referring to Selig’s support for Aaron. “He might feel that way. We all might feel that way. But the reality is that within the rules of the time, Barry Bonds broke the record, and that cannot be denied. There was no testing for much of Bonds’ career (and) limited testing for parts of others. I just don’t think you can get into this debate without acknowledging responsibility for what happened – a responsibility that, by the way, lies with all of us.

“To me,” Rosenthal continued, “this is an emotional debate – and it hides and obscures the reality that this happened under baseball’s rules at the time. It can’t be denied.”

Selig claims that while, yes, MLB has cracked down on its drug-testing program, the notion that there was a full-blown Steroid Era is overblown.

Clearly it’s not.

“They certainly have acknowledged through their actions – through the (testing) and penalties and everything else – that there was a steroid problem in baseball,” Rosenthal said. “If not, they wouldn’t have pursued the Biogenesis guys the way they did. They wouldn’t keep strengthening the policy.

“The reality is that certainly there was a Steroid Era, and certainly they’ve taken steps (not to) eliminate it – because it cannot be eliminated – but to reduce the impact and damage of what has been done. That’s good.

“But when you say that Barry Bonds is not the true home run king when he has the most home runs under baseball’s rules, I have a little bit of a problem with that.”

Rosenthal also discussed instant replay, which, so far, has been good. Not perfect, but good.

“I like what is happening, that baseball finally is in the right place,” Rosenthal said. “(But) it is a work in progress. Nobody has said that it would be perfect from the get-go, and we’re seeing issues come up almost on a daily basis. It’s going to have to be tweaked along the way. There’s no doubt about that. But I like that it’s there. I like that baseball is saying, ‘Okay, I know it’s not perfect, but we’ll fix it as we go along.”

Feinstein also acquired about Stephen Strasburg, who has looked very human through two starts this year. In fact, he’s 0-1 with a 6.10 ERA and has allowed seven runs in 10 and 1/3 innings.

“I expect – as a lot of people expected – that he would be really good this year,” Rosenthal said. “So far, that hasn’t happened. But it’s two starts, and I’m not going to make much of a judgment off of two starts. If he does not get better – if he is kind of this inconsistent guy all year long – then you’ll have something. But it’s a little too early to make any declarations there. I want to see how it goes the rest of the way.”

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