For years, an asterisk stuck to Roger Maris's single-season home run record like a burr. Now Barry Bonds has tied Maris's mark, only with an asterisk of his own—a computer-generated one. When Topps, the trading-card company, unveils its 1995 baseball set in December, every 15-card pack will include one of 400 Cyberstats cards, each of which projects a big leaguer's statistics for the strike-shortened 1994 season over a hypothetical full campaign. According to a computer program developed by STATS, Inc., Greg Maddux finished with a 1.69 ERA, Frank Thomas socked 53 home runs, and the Cleveland Indians beat the Atlanta Braves in a politically incorrect World Series.
When baseball went on hiatus, Matt Williams of the San Francisco Giants had hit 43 homers through 112 games, a pace that bettered Maris's to that point. But while the mainframe was miserly to Williams, who wound up with 51, it was munificent to his teammate Bonds, who had 37 when the strike began. The All-Star outfielder hit his 61st during a four-homer explosion in his 154th game of the season, only to go dingerless over the remaining five games. Evidently a computer can even simulate pressure.