Turning in one of the best single-season performances in Chicago Cubs history in 1998, Sammy Sosa received NL MVP honors. But he didn’t deserve them.
Probably my favorite part of being a fan of the Chicago Cubs – and baseball, as a whole – in today’s world is the constantly evolving way we look at the game. I’m only 28 and there have been momentuous shifts in how we, as fans, evaluate and judge the performance of our favorite players.
I’m a big reader. I’m currently attempting to read 52 books this year (I’ve admittedly fallen off the pace a bit this summer, at just 30 of 52 nearing the end of August) – and a pretty good chunk of my reading list included baseball books.
My latest selection, Ahead of the Curve: Inside the Baseball Revolution by Brian Kenny, is one of my favorites. Why? Because it seriously challenged some long-standing beliefs for me – including how I viewed the 1998 campaign that, as we all know, ended in Cubs outfielder Sammy Sosa winning the National League MVP.
Sosa finished the year with 66 home runs – breaking Roger Maris‘ previous single-season record of 61. Of course, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire did even more – blasting 70 long-balls on the year. But that didn’t matter to the BBWAA – Slammin’ Sammy received 30 of 32 first-place votes, earning the first and only Most Valuable Player honors of his career.