Summer of Sam (and Mac)
By Kevin Smith Clark
When Ken Rosenthal makes a reminder that this is the 10th anniversary of the McGwire-Sosa battle, all it does is tell me, “You’re getting old.”
Believe me, I was completely caught up in the hoopla that summer. Living one hour (sans traffic) from Wrigley definitely added to the excitement. We’d never seen anything like this in baseball (some may argue 1961 Maris-Mantle, but that was an age of single-camera baseball coverage and no internet), and fans turned out in droves. I went to see the Cardinals at Comisky (now US Cellular) in July because McGwire would be there (he didn’t disappoint, hitting #32 that evening). It was all surreal…and then…
Canseco. Caminiti. Congress. Cowardice. Here I am, 10 years later, hoodwinked, bamboozled by two guys who will (whether or not they ever confess) a huge asterisk on their careers because of a lack of integrity. Two guys sealed their fates when they wouldn’t just own up to the allegations. “I’m not here to talk about the past.” Well, I am, Mr. McGwire and Mr. Sosa. I quote Jimmy Gator from that beautiful film Magnolia, “The book says, ‘We might be through with the past, but the past ain't through with us.’” What sucks is every time a Ryan Howard, Josh Hamilton, David Ortiz, or Albert Pujols goes yard, the past ain’t through with us. Every time another player gets suspended, the past ain’t through with us. McGwire and Sosa ignited the fuse of our suspicion, and, henceforth, every Home Run champ will be placed under a microscope. His blood, urine, and hair will be examined. His former high school coach and his baby’s mama will be questioned. I can’t enjoy the long ball like I used to…perhaps it’s God’s way of forcing me to enjoy great pitching…and BTW, when did a 3.75 ERA become good? Where are Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax when you need them? Sorry, there I go talking about the past again.
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