Marty Lurie Talks San Francisco Giants Baseball

Records are made to be broken, except for this one

All records are made to be broken, except this one.

For me that’s the way it should be…

Click Read More and I’ll tell you why this one is special.

I was there the night St. Louis Cardinals’ slugger, Mark McGwire hit number 62 at Busch Stadium, surpassing the single season home run record, that Roger Maris had set at 61 in 1961.

It was so surreal in later innings, when the mighty Big Mac came to bat and the scoreboard showed in giant numbers his 62 home runs. Was I dreaming, it can’t be, no one was going to ever break Roger Maris’ home run record, it just couldn’t happen, but it did.

McGwire went on to hit not just 62 homers that season, but 70 before the 1998 season came to an end. After 37 years the great home run record fell and a new one was set.

70 home runs, now there is a record no one will ever break.

Then came Barry Bonds, just three seasons later, he never hit more than 49 home runs in a season in his career, he was 37 years old. About 10 years passed what many believe is a ballplayer’s prime playing age, at 26.

He was in the middle of a pennant race unlike McGwire in 1998 with the Cardinals out of contention, Mac saw pitches that Bonds wasn’t going to get to see because of the race.

It’s not that Barry really didn’t get to see many pitches, it’s just that most of them were out of the strike zone as he was walked a 177 times.

Barry didn’t have a chance to hit 70, they wouldn’t give him the chance, and McGwire’s record would and should stand for at least 37 more years. It just wasn’t going to happen.

It did, just three years after Mark McGwire hit 70 home runs, Barry Bonds hit 73 in the 2001 season.

On my wall in my office is a home plate with an image of Cal Ripken and the number 2131, representing the day Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s record of consecutive games played. That was another record that was never going to be broken.

Among the other scared records, there’s Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak, Hank Aaron’s 755 home runs that broke the Babe’s record. Ty Cobb’s 4190 base hits broken by Pete Rose’s 4256 base hits, and you can go on and on. They say all records are made to be broken.

Except this one.

The home run record that means more to any slugger than any others, is the home run record held by Mickey Mantle. His 18 World Series home runs.

Mickey Mantle the mere mention of his name takes me back to a time of innocence when your heroes were perfect. Mantle was my baseball hero though somewhat past his prime in the first World Series I can remember, the Mick could do no wrong.

You couldn’t grow up in the baby boom generation and not be a Mickey Mantle fan. Writer Maury Allen said in his book “Memories of Mick”, “I know that if he is not the best the game has ever seen, he was certainly the most loved.”

A series of injuries beginning with stepping in a drain at Yankee field to avoid colliding with the Yankee Clipper Joe DiMaggio and a lifestyle of hard-partying prevented Mickey from becoming without a doubt the best baseball player ever.

From 1951 thru 1968 the Mick led the New York Yankees to a dozen pennants and seven World Championships. On the way to collecting those championship rings, the greatest switch hitter ever, hit 536 home runs, 18 World Series home runs (a record that will never be broken), appeared in 20 All-Star games and won the Triple Crown.

To Americans, Mickey Mantle epitomizes the Golden Age of baseball, what was once the great American past time.

Why won’t this record be broken?

It comes down to World Series at-bats and the current state of the game today.

If we are to consider, if and when this record must be broken, as some would suggest all records must be broken, we must take a look at the contenders and their chances to surpass the 18 home run mark.

In order to break the record you have to get to the World Series, herein lies the biggest obstacle. Getting there.

A look at the World Series over the past 10 years should give us insight into those potential opportunities.

From 1993 until 2002 the following teams made appearances in the World Series;

From the American League,

New York Yankees, (5 times) – 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996

Cleveland Indians, (2- times) –1997, 1995

Anaheim Angels, 2002

Toronto Blue Jays, 1993

From the National League we have,

Atlanta Braves, (3 times) – 1999, 1996, 1995

San Francisco Giants, 2002

Arizona Diamondbacks, 2001

San Diego Padres, 1998

Florida Marlins, 1997

Philadelphia Phillies, 1993

There was no World Series in 1994 (still sticks in my crawl)

It would appear that if you were in pursuit of Mantle’s home run record you would have the best shot at playing for naturally the New York Yankees and the Atlanta Braves or playing with David Justice who has made it to the Fall Classic with three different teams for a total of six times in his career.

So lets take a look at the Yankees & Braves. Who are on the record books with World Series home runs, and who would we consider as posing a threat to Mantle’s home run record.

David Justice played for the Yankees, Braves and Cleveland in six World Series. He has hit four WS home runs which puts him among the leaders.

Tino Martinez the Cardinals first baseman and former Yankee made it to five World Series, and has hit a total of three home runs in the fall classic.

Derek Jeter the Yankee shortstop has five World Series under his belt and the slugging shortstop has a total of three home runs.

Chipper Jones of the Braves has hit one home run in the three World Series he played in.

In the 2002 World Series, Barry Bonds tied a record held by Babe Ruth by hitting four home runs in one World Series. This was Barry’s first appearance in the Fall Classic, he would have to appear at least three more times in the World Series and tie his and the Babe’s record each time to get close to Mantle.

Barry turns 39 this season and while he may continue to amaze us during the season, the chances of the Giants getting back to the World Series three or four more times before even Barry has to retire, is astronomical.

Who else has even a long shot chance? Here’s an alphabetical list of the sluggers of our time and their World Series home runs,

The Sluggers

Jeff Bagwell – 0

Graig Biggio – 0

Barry Bonds – 4

Homer Bush – 0 (just kidding)

Ken Griffey – 0

Todd Helton – 0

Derek Jeter – 3

Andrew Jones – 2

Chipper Jones – 1

David Justice – 4

Jeff Kent – 3

Ryan Klesko – 3

Tino Martinez – 3

Fred McGriff – 4

Rafael Palmeiro – 0

Manny Ramirez – 3

Alex Rodriguez – 0

Sammy Sosa – 0

Jim Thome – 3

Bernie Williams – 3

Matt Williams – 3

Can you see it? Is there someone here going to make it back to the World Series, four, five or six or even more times to even have a shot at hitting 19 World Series Home Runs?

I can’t and I have my glasses on.

Not only is getting the at bats critical, cause you can’t win if you don’t play (subliminal ad from the Illinois lottery) but you have to play for a team that can get you to the post season.

Warning sluggers, if you are a great slugger chances are you won’t be going to the post season, not this season or the next.

Let’s take a look back over the past 10 years and the post season.

The greatest sluggers of our time, I’m sure we can all agree, are (in no particular order) Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez & Sammy Sosa. (ok alphabetical order)

Between the five greatest sluggers of our time, they have one World Series appearance among them. Barry Bonds with the Giants last season.

I have this theory, I developed when the Cardinals brought McGwire to St. Louis. While I enjoyed the slugfest as much as anyone, the Cardinals were not going to win a World Championship with McGwire at first. The presence of such a player changes the mindset of a manager and a team, I’ll explain someday in another article, I call it the Super Star factor.

Baseball is a team sport, and while it is a collection of individual effort it remains a team sport. While teams go after the great sluggers, once they got them, they are limited financially in their ability to build a team to compliment the Super Star. It’s the state of the game you can’t pay one player $10, $15 or even $25 million dollars and surround him with much talent.

It takes a team to win a World Championship, something the Yankees have apparently found the formula for, without a McGwire, Sosa or Bonds.

Given all the homerun during the regular season and the homerun records broken recently the hitters, Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, and the rest still covet the appearances in the World Series and a World Championship.

The World Series home run record would be the most cherished record of all as well as the rings that would go with it.

Sports fans, it’s not going to happen.

Mickey Mantle holds the record and he will keep on holding it. As it should be, after all he was my first hero, and you know some things don’t have to change.

That’s the way it is, I’ll see you at the ballpark.


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