Last night, Juan Francisco of the Cincinnati Reds absolutely crushed a home run. He hit the ball 502 feet and sent it completely out of The Great American Ballpark. This isn’t a park designed like San Francisco’s or Pittsburgh’s or Chicago’s or Boston’s. Balls were not meant to clear the right field bleachers in Cincinnati. Which makes Francisco’s blast all the more awe-inspiring.
Moments like that provide a glimpse into an argument that I completely disagree with, but feel is worthy of mention. There is a faction of baseball fans that would turn a blind-eye to performance enhancing drugs in order to see more monster home runs like Francisco’s last night. The thinking is based on an admittedly logical belief that home runs are exciting and help promote the game.
Like Tom Brady’s 99 yard touchdown pass last night on Monday Night Football, big plays sell the sport. Football has the long touchdown, basketball has the slam dunk, and baseball has the home run. So why not capitalize on baseball’s biggest marketing machine, home runs?
To be honest, it’s a fair question, and I can understand the thought process behind ignoring steroid use if it means more excitement in baseball. But that’s not what baseball is about. Baseball is not built on meaningless thrills. A dunk in a basketball game is exciting but doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme. A long touchdown in football is often just as exciting as an interception. And PED-induced home runs are nothing more than illusion. Baseball is not a magic show and does not need smoke and mirrors.
A shot like Francisco’s is something special because of it’s rarity. Like the legendary home run Mickey Mantle hit out of Yankee Stadium, home runs are magical in their defiance of physics. The reason we can’t EVER overlook PED’s is to maintain the home run in its pure form. A mixture between the power of the pitch and the power of the swing.
The controversy behind PED’s seems to be dying down, but when I see mammoth home runs like Francisco’s I’m reminded of why we can’t simply give in for entertainment purposes. Home runs are difficult to come by and can only be cheapened by artificial power.