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Remember 1998?

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  • Remember 1998?

    Try to think back to those pristine and trusting days of the 1998 season, before most of us knew anything about PEDs or HGH. There was a heated battle that year for the national League Home Run crown, even before we realized that the Magic Maris number of 61 (long the MLB record for a single season) might be shattered.

    In that 1998 season, Barry Bonds had a decent year himself (37 HR, 122 RBI, .303 BA) but by August he was no longer a contender for the HR crown.

    But pretend that he was! Imagine that all three sluggers (McGwire, Sosa and Bonds) were tied somewhere near 50 HR, with about six weeks to go. If you knew then only what you really knew then, which player would you be pulling for, to possibly set a new MLB record for homeruns in a season?

    In situations like this (as I did during the 1961 AL homerun race between Mantle and Maris) I generally pull for the player I consider "most worthy" -- meaning that I support the guy who has done the best in the past.

    Prior to that 1998 season, Bonds had reached 40 or more HRs three times: 46 in 1993, 42 in 1996 and 40 in 1997. Sosa's best was 40 HR in 1996. Neither Bonds nor Sosa had ever reached the magic plateau of 50 in a season -- but before 1995 few others had, either.

    McGwire had hit 49 for Oakland in 1987 and 42 in 1992, then 52 in 1996 and that crazy 58 in 1997 (when his season was split between the two leagues-- causing him to lead the majors but fail to win the HR title in either league). Throughout his career, it seems that McGwire hit 40 or better anytime he was healthy enough to play a full season.

    Prior to 1998, Bonds had no doubt the best overall "resume'" of the three, but McGwire had the best HR history of the three -- so I would have been pulling for McGwire first, Bonds second, and Sosa last of the three.

    If Bonds had also been a contender in 1998, who would you have pulled for in that 1998 HR race? Might Bonds have been your #1 pick?
    Last edited by Appling; 04-04-2006, 06:16 PM.
    Luke

  • #2
    Well, I'd always been a big McGwire fan (his being Irish and all, even if he does spell his name wrong) ever since his 49 homer rookie year, and I'd always (pre-steroid news) had utter indifference towards Bonds (like I've said, when I picture him in my mind, it's still in a Pirates uniform)... so I'd have to go with Sosa, if only because of Scarface.
    "Simply put, the passion, interest and tradition surrounding baseball in New York is unmatched."

    Sean McAdam, ESPN.com

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    • #3
      with Sosa, if only because of Scarface.
      Nice reference.





      ----Mac, even though I smelled the andro smoke-screen back then.

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