Tue Jul 27 05:39pm EDT
Burning question of the day: What's with Roger Maris and all of his numbers that have been awarded or amended — though not necessarily asterisked — after the fact?
Fifteen years ago, the New York Yankees slugger was forced to share the 1961 American League RBI title when an eagle-eyed stats researcher noticed that the Yankee had incorrectly been credited with an RBI during a game on July 5.
The discovery left Maris, who had died 10 years earlier, tied with Baltimore's Jim Gentile at 141 RBI for the season.
But while the obsessive work of SABR made him share that RBI title, it has now allowed Maris to claim another 1961 stats category — in addition to his 61 homers — for himself.
That's because it was recently announced by SABR's Lyle Spatz that Mickey Mantle had been incorrectly awarded a run that was actually scored by Moose Skowron during a doubleheader on Sept. 10. The correction leaves Mantle with 131 runs, one shy of Maris' league-leading 132.
"I know there are people who object to these types of corrections, even when they are done to rectify an obvious error such as a faulty computation or putting a number in a wrong column. This is especially true when the correction changes a league leader in a particular category.
"For those of you that do (I hope there aren't too many on the Records Committee) let me restate an obvious truth. Mickey Mantle was one of the game's great players. Does finishing his career with 1,676 runs scored rather than 1,677 make him any less a great player. Will anybody's assessment of Mantle's place in history be changed by the fact that he did not lead the league in runs scored in 1961? I don't think so ... We should try to get the numbers as accurate as we can."
Like many of you, I can't fathom spending hours, days and years cross-referencing old box scores and game columns while looking for mistakes in the reporting of statistics.
But I also don't understand the guy who's trying to eat at every McDonald's in the world or people who are really into collecting every bit of Smurfs gear. Just because someone obsesses over the trivial doesn't render it a worthless pursuit.
Especially when an accurate portrait of history is at stake.
Of course, news like this also usually spurs talk of hypothetical situations that could occur with the precedence of such corrections. My favorite is that question that was asked by a commenter on Baseball-Reference: What would happen if SABR was presented with evidence that Roberto Clemente had only 2,999 career hits and not the milestone 3,000 at the time of his tragic death? Would the thirst for a corrected history be as strong?
SABR's answer would likely be an emphatic yes, because it's how they operate.
And because history is a fluid record that's always evolving when new knowledge comes to light, it's how they should act, no matter what anyone thinks or what records are altered.