Chicago Cubs: ‘Long Gone Summer’ doesn’t live up to the hype

Chicago Cubs, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa (Photo by DANIEL LIPPITT / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LIPPITT/AFP via Getty Images)
Chicago Cubs, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa (Photo by DANIEL LIPPITT / AFP) (Photo by DANIEL LIPPITT/AFP via Getty Images) /

The long-awaited film about the Chicago Cubs 1998 home run race aired on Sunday, and while it was great to see Sammy Sosa, the story felt like something was missing.

ESPN aired the long-awaited documentary on Sunday called ‘Long Gone Summer,’ which told the story about the home run race in 1998 between the Chicago Cubs’ Sammy Sosa and the St. Louis Cardinals’ Mark McGwire.

The story was great for showcasing Sosa and what he meant to the Cubs and their fans, but the documentary had little excitement to it and felt like a bore outside of the home run highlights from the two sluggers.

The big personality of Sosa was on display in the film, but it felt like the emphasis was placed on McGwire, who didn’t seem to have the character to carry the story. Putting away the bias, they made it feel like every McGwire home run was this emotional, life-changing event.

The moment when they told us how McGwire didn’t like talking to the media was the moment I realized this whole story shouldn’t have had so much emphasis on him, record broken or not.

1998 was an incredible season. Sosa hit 66 homers and won MVP, Ken Griffey Jr. was in his prime (56 homers and 146 RBIs), and don’t forget Barry Bonds (.303 average with 122 RBIs). Sure, the documentary was centered around the race between Sosa and McGwire, but the film could have been so much more entertaining if it didn’t glance over Bonds and Griffey like it did. Those two have the flash to bring in viewers and emphasize the reason why 1998 was the season that brought baseball back to life.

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Aside from McGwire’s 70 home runs, he was a guy who just went about his business, which is perfectly fine. Still, when you are the center of a documentary that highlights two of the most passionate fan bases in baseball during a time with the world put on pause, he didn’t help spark that fire back into fans that we have all been missing.

The way Sosa was depicted was a delight on the positive side of things. His fun nature, love for the game, and excitement he brought to the ballpark every day were great to see.

Cubs fans got an important reminder of the joy he brought to Wrigley Field and the spark he did provide. It’s a shame Sosa hasn’t been welcomed back to the Cubs organization, but the hope is that this documentary reminds the Cubs why he should still be apart of this team.

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Overall, ‘Long Gone Summer’ was an excellent look back into the past and helped remind fans how special McGwire and Sosa were, but it lacked that excitement level that prevented it from being considered one of the better 30 for 30’s.