As Alex Rodriguez slowly embarks on his journey to 600 home runs, many questions have arisen when it comes to the hype and legality of the record.
The best thing I have seen regarding this was a question posted by MLB Network Radio on their Facebook page which said, “There are 6 possible reasons why Alex Rodriguez's quest for 600 HR is going relatively uncelebrated: A.) 600 HR is no longer the same milestone B.) A-Rod will easily surpass 700 HR C.) A-Rod is not fan-friendly D.) Steroids have tainted A-Rod's reputation E.) The timing... F.) Something we didn't think of. Which is it?”
In my opinion, even if the 2009 steroid fiasco did not take place, this would not be seen as a big deal.
I mean look at the numbers: A-Rod, whenever he hits #600, will become the youngest player ever to reach this milestone. Babe Ruth did it at age 36, before retiring at age 40.
At this point, Alex will still be around until the 2017 season if he adheres to his contract, which means he will have more years than Ruth to tack on some numbers.
Hank Aaron, the home run king before Barry Bonds* took over the title in 2007, reached the number in 1971, 5 years before he retired and 17 years after reaching the big leagues.
Barry Bonds, just as A-Rod will, hit the 600 home run plateau in his 16th season, although he did it at age 38 (A-Rod is currently 34). Barry also had a much higher percentage of homers from his 500th to 600th, hitting 100 in a year and a half (including an incredible 73 in 2001) compared to the 3+ years it has taken A-Rod.
There are others, such as Ken Griffey Jr. who hit his 600th at age 37, after years of injury-laden seasons. Same thing with Sammy Sosa, who also hit his at age 37 in 2007.
What does this all mean?
It just means that for the most part, 600 home runs is not that important in the life of A-Rod. The last two who broke into the 600 club were at the end of their careers, and especially in Griffey’s case, it was a milestone that could define their career.
We all know that if Rodriguez stays prominently healthy, he’ll be at 700 home runs in a few years. Then a few weeks after that, he’ll be at 714. Then a few months (or a season) later, he’ll be at 755. Then two weeks later he’ll be at 762.
When Ruth hit 600, it was a number nobody had ever reached before. When Aaron broke it, it was a number the white face of baseball had already reached and shouldn't be tainted by a black man. When Bonds broke it, it was an amazing deed that only two others have reached before.
Ultimately, we all know what A-Rod did regarding steroids, and how that may taint future records. But when you take all of that away, all you’re staring at is a round number that looks nice in the record books, but means nothing in the scheme of things.
Also taking into consideration his personality, I think for Griffey the 600 home run record was so sweet because he really is one of the biggest class acts in baseball. However, I don't see it as being a big factor in A-Rod's case, because again, it's not going to be the number that defines his career.
So to answer MLB Network Radio's question, I feel that A and B are the most viable choices.
I think a milestone like this is now dependent on who is breaking it, which is different from how it was a few years ago. When you mention Griffey, you can look at him hitting 600 homers and think highly of it due to the circumstances of his career and where he was when he hit it.
When you look at A-Rod, you KNOW he will do more than this, so it's just seen as another notch in his belt.
It doesn't mean I won't cheer like hell when he actually hits his 600th; it just means it has about the same value to me as Robinson Cano's 1,000th hit. It's a nice moment, but not a career maker.