Chicago Cubs: Excitement leading up to ‘Long Gone Summer’
The documentary about the 1998 home-run race between Cubs’ Sammy Sosa and the Cardinals’ Mark McGwire airs this coming Sunday, and massive excitement surrounds the event
1998 was a great time to be a Chicago sports fan. Michael Jordan and the Bulls were experiencing “The Last Dance,” and Sammy Sosa and the Chicago Cubs were in the midst of a 90-win season in which they made the playoffs for the first time since 1989.
Not only that, but Sosa was in a season-long battle with McGwire to break the MLB’s single-season home run record. Fans will be in for a treat when ESPN airs their new 30 for 30 this coming Sunday.
Before the 1998 season, Roger Maris held the MLB record with 61 home runs in a single season and that was done in 1961. Many believe the 1998 season helped revive the sport of baseball, and it felt as if it was like we were living in today’s era of the MLB.
Sosa and McGwire pumped life into the sport and had fans come to the stadium in droves. Watching the two battle for the home run crown had to have been nothing short of electrifying, and for those who may have been too young to appreciate it, including me, I will get an excellent opportunity to get a full dive in this Sunday.
The best part about the battle between the two sluggers was that both came out with hardware when it was all said and done. McGwire won the home run battle at the end of the day, as he slugged 70 to Sosa’s 66. However, Sosa won NL MVP that season and brought his team to the postseason. Sure, the Cubs got swept in a three-game series with Atlanta, but the chance to play October baseball should never be taken lightly.
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As fun and exciting as times were for the sport, steroids did tarnish the good times as McGwire eventually confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs. Sosa never confessed, but there is considerable speculation that he took part in steroids as well.
It’s disappointing, to say the least, and we wonder how much emphasis will be placed on it by ESPN during the documentary. The hope is that they highlight the excitement around the race and the game of baseball, as fans desperately wait for better days ahead.
Sosa may not have a great relationship with the Cubs today, but he holds a special place in Chicago folklore. Regardless of how you view the MVP today, one still has to appreciate the firepower and excitement he brought to the team.
From his bunny hop to first after he knew he hit one of the park, to his All-Star statistics he put up with the Cubs, Sosa gave Chicago energy that they didn’t think they needed. Watching how ESPN depicts Sosa during this 1998 race should help show Cubs fans and people around the world how much he did mean to the city.