Last night ESPN would air another installment of their 30 for 30 documentary series. This edition would be entitled Long Gone Summer and would focus on the 1998 Homerun chase by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. So here are the three biggest takeaways from “Long Gone Summer.”
Sosa Still Won’t Admit & Cubs Won’t Ask Him Back.
The closing moments of the docu-series would focus on steroids. As one would expect from a documentary about that time in baseball. However, in the “Long Gone Summer,” Sammy Sosa would be asked point-blank about steroids. And Sammy would skirt around the question. Sosa would pose the question why are they asking for me to say something, there are 4 or 5 “Hall of Famer” that were using it, everyone was on it.
The other aspect that played a significant role for Sosa was the frayed relationship between Sammy and the Cubs. It has been well over a decade since the unceremonious end of the pairing. During that time, Sammy Sosa was second only to Michael Jordan in terms of popularity in Chicago. But the Cubs and Sammy have not been able to mend the broken fences.
Long Gone Summer Saved Baseball
Any baseball fan that lived through the 1994 strike will tell you that baseball was in serious trouble. Fans were angry and feeling like the owners and players were both selfish children. (Similar feelings are being heard now with the same parties have been unable to decide on the 2020 season. Check out our coverage on baseball in 2020 and a fan letter to the decision-makers.)
The chasing of Roger Maris‘ record 61 single-season homerun total would captivate the nation. No matter who your favorite team was, everyone was watching Cardinals and Cubs games to see if McGwire and Sosa hit homeruns. And while, retrospectively, we know the results may have been achieved via a tainted manner. The feeling during the time of the “Long Gone Summer” was the chase (along with Cal Ripken Jr catching Lou Gehrig‘s games played streak in 1995, in my opinion) saved the game we love.
Forgotten Man ~ Ken Griffey Jr
At the beginning of the 1998 MLB season, two men were said to have the best opportunity to beat Roger Maris’ record. Those two men were Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr. However, as the season progressed, the race became all about McGwire and Sosa. The third man in the race, Griffey Jr, was forgotten.
1998 would be the second of two 56 homerun seasons from The Kid. And while the docu-series moved past Griffey in the race to 62, fans of Griffey and baseball purest look back at Griffey Jr’s 56 homerun effort as even more astounding. The steroid era tarnished many of the game’s biggest names of that era. However, there’s one man who remains unblemished and underappreciated from the 1998 homerun race, and that forgotten man is Ken Griffey Jr.