Over the weekend, Hurricane Irma pelted the state of Florida. One of the hardest-hit cities was Miami, where the rain turned streets into rivers and the wind snapped cranes like twigs. As with Houston, stories abound of everyday citizens putting themselves at risk to help their fellow man during this dangerous time. While these stories certainly show the best of humanity and deserve to be highlighted, another amazing story in Miami has failed to attract the national spotlight.
Before Hurricane Irma was busy destroying property all over Miami, a Miami Marlin by the name of Giancarlo Stanton was busy destroying baseballs. Currently sitting on a league-leading 54 home runs, Stanton broke a National League record by hitting 18 home runs in August, surpassing Willie Mays and Sammy Sosa.
Not only is the number of home runs impressive, but the manner in which he hits them are even more so. Stanton doesn’t so much hit balls over the wall as he attempts to send them into orbit.
With 17 games left in the regular season, the probability of Stanton hitting 73 home runs and passing Barry Bonds is almost non-existent. But the possibility of passing Yankees greats Babe Ruth (who hit 60 in 1927) and Roger Marris (who hit 61 in 1961) remains a real possibility.
Those who have passed Marris’ 61 mark, (Sammy Sosa, Mark Mcgwire, and Barry Bonds), all face the swirling specter of steroid allegations, which is the only explanation for why all three men remain out of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Many people, including myself and at least one current baseball player, still view the single-season home run record as 61.
Given the historical and inspiring nature of Stanton’s current quest, why has it attracted so little national media attention?
While football remains king of the sports landscape for the time being, baseball still has plenty of currency around the proverbial water cooler. Aaron Judge’s ridiculous summer of monster home runs received plenty of air time on SportsCenter and from talking heads.
Is “controversy” over whether or not Stanton is chasing Marris’ or Bonds’ record not worthy of Skip Bayless’ time the same way Tim Tebow is? Even with Miami not being a baseball town the same way New York is, the love of the game runs deep within its culture, as evidenced by excellent turnout for the World Baseball Classic.
Sports has a tremendous ability to both provide temporary respite from the tragedies of a harsh world as well as the capability to provide truly magical moments that are forever engrained into the public consciousness.
Who could forget President George W. Bush’s first pitch at Yankee Stadium during the World Series, while wearing a full bulletproof vest?
Has the Superdome ever been louder than when Steve Gleason blocked a punt for a touchdown during the Saints’ first game back in New Orleans (against their archrivals, no less) after the horror that was Hurricane Katrina?
Marlins Park has hosted emotional moments before, such as the lead-off home run hit by Dee Gordon last year in their first game after the death of teammate Jose Fernandez.
Stanton has a chance to follow in the footsteps of these great moments and inspire a fanbase, a community rebuilding, and a nation at a time when many are dealing with the harsh reality of losing so much.
Stanton might need a couple home runs this weekend to keep 61 in reach, but when he returns to Miami on Monday for the Marlins’ first home game, you should be watching — something incredible and unforgettable just might happen.
Eric Peterson is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is a native of Illinois and a die-hard fan of the Chicago Cubs, who was only a few seats away from being Steve Bartman.
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