Baseball's top 10 'records' ... without the home runs

Originally Published: May 30, 2006
By Jayson Stark | ESPN.com

If the biggest name in baseball can hit his 715th home run and nobody outside the 415 area code even claps, that should tell us something.

And not just about the man hitting the home run.

It should tell us something about what has become of the mighty home run itself.

'Modern' records?
In 1901, there were no such things as radios, TVs, toasters, cars or even cornflakes. So only baseball could consider 1901 to be part of "modern" times.

Well, we think it's time to create a new set of "modern" records that reflect how the game is played now. We lean toward starting our new "modern" record book in 1969 (division play, lowered mound) or 1961 (expansion). But we're open to suggestions.

Send us your thoughts about when you'd begin the new history of modern baseball -- or whether you'd mess with the current setup at all. Operators are standing by at uselessinfodept@yahoo.com.
-- J.S.

When Barry Bonds and his cohorts in the Asterisk Generation can perform radical surgery to remove all the romance from one of the most romantic numbers in any sport -- 714 -- it's time to reevaluate.

It's time to reevaluate the home run and what it means in our culture. And it's time, especially, to reevaluate what we've always looked on as our favorite records in the record book.

If numbers like 714 are going to cease to mean anything, then what do any home run records mean? And if the home run records are no longer the coolest, most celebrated records in baseball, what replaces them?

We've asked this question recently to a bunch of baseball people -- players, ex-players, executives, historians, writers and great statistical minds:

"If we take all home run records out of the argument, what are the 10 best records in baseball?" That's the question.

But by "best," we don't mean: Which ones are the hardest to break?

Look, even Fernando Tatis (two grand slams in one inning) has an unbreakable record. But it's not a record anybody cares about.

What we're looking for are the records people care about most. We're looking for the records that would create the most buzz if someone were closing in on them.

We want electricity. We want poetry. We want (here's that word again) romance. We don't want just John Kruk to be talking about these feats. We want Katie Couric to be talking about them. We'd even settle for Campbell Brown.

That won't be possible with all 10 of these. Katie should know that up front. But that's the goal.

We also need to warn you: As we went along in this debate, we found out it's time to reevaluate one more thing -- what constitutes a "modern" record.

Nap Lajoie hit .426 in 1901. Jack Chesbro won 41 games in 1904. But do those records have any relevance to "modern" baseball? Be serious.

So for the purposes of this column, we're going to consider .400 and 30 wins to be de facto records, even though they're not records you'll currently find in any record book. We'll get into this issue in a follow-up column in a few days. But for now, here they come -- The 10 Best Records in Baseball:

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Jayson Stark | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com