Playing with numbers is baseball's No. 1 problem

April 13, 2006
Randy Roberts
Randy Roberts

While Barry Bonds pursues baseball's home run record, a cloud of steroid accusations has settled over the national pastime, says a Purdue University sports history expert.

"There is no game that is more obsessed with numbers, and in baseball there is no number bigger than the count for home runs," says Randy Roberts, professor of history. "The sport will never change from wood bats to hitter-friendly aluminum bats because a switch would probably dramatically inflate batters' number of hits and home runs.

"Steroids also undermine numbers, and doing so undermines the game."

Roberts says only once before in baseball's history has the game been so tarnished. In 1919, many of the Chicago White Sox players were accused of throwing World Series games for gambling purposes. Those players were banned for life. As a result Major League Baseball installed its first commissioner, Kenesaw Mountain Landis, he says.

Now, baseball has appointed former U.S. Senate majority leader George Mitchell to investigate steroids in baseball. Bonds will be a focus, and the final report will be made public.

Roberts is a regular guest on the History Channel's "Reel To Real," which shows a movie based on a historical event and a related documentary. He also has appeared on shows for PBS, ESPN, HBO, CBS, NBC and ETV.

Last year, Roberts appeared in a Ken Burns documentary, "Unforgivable Blackness," on boxer Jack Johnson. Roberts also is author or editor of "The Rock, the Curse and the Hub: A Random History of Boston Sports," "Pittsburgh Sports: Stories from the Steel City," "John Wayne: American," "Heavy Justice: The State of Indiana v. Michael G. Tyson" and "Where the Domino Fell: America and Vietnam 1945 to 1990."

Source: Purdue University, by Amy Patterson Neubert

Explore further: Engineers explore origami to create folding spacecraft

Related Stories

New stem-cell treatment: 'Hype is ahead of the science'

July 13, 2011

Before New York Yankees pitcher Bartolo Colon pulled his hamstring while running from the mound to first base on June 11, fans would have been forgiven for thinking he had chugged from the Fountain of Youth.

Recommended for you

A new way to harness wasted methane

October 17, 2017

Methane gas, a vast natural resource, is often disposed of through burning, but new research by scientists at MIT could make it easier to capture this gas for use as fuel or a chemical feedstock.

Sunlight stimulates microbial respiration of organic carbon

October 17, 2017

Sunlight and microbes interact to degrade dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in surface waters, but scientists cannot currently predict the rate and extent of this degradation in either dark or light conditions. A recent study ...

Plasma optic combines lasers into superbeam

October 17, 2017

Since its introduction in the 1977 film "Star Wars," the Death Star has remained one of science fiction's most iconic figures. The image of Alderaan's destruction at the hands of the Death Star's superlaser is burned into ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.