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Sports Then and Now

15 Years Ago: McGwire and Sosa – Baseball History with an Asterisk 1

Posted on September 01, 2013 by Dean Hybl
Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire seemed larger than life when they captivated the baseball world in 1998.

Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire seemed larger than life when they captivated the baseball world in 1998.

When someone tells you that something seems too good to be true, all you have to think about the 1998 baseball season to know that is indeed a true statement.

It is hard to believe that it was 15 years ago when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the sports world with a display of home run power that helped many fans forget the loss of the World Series to a labor dispute just three years earlier.

Whether it was watching them blast bombs in the batting cages prior to the game or long home runs during the game, fans couldn’t get enough of the two home run heroes.

At the time, fans marveled that these two superstars were able to annihilate one of baseball’s most honored records after it had withstood very few challenges over 37 years since being set by Roger Maris.

However, though there were some hints about possible use of artificial means by McGwire they were quickly dismissed as neither the media nor fans clearly understood just how much of an impact pills in a bottle could have on player performance.

Sure it seemed a little odd that after having just three players hit 50 or more home runs (and none more than 52) in a season between 1962 and 1994, the 1998 campaign marked the fourth straight with at least 50 home runs and third straight with more than one.

However, “everybody loves the long ball” was the new credo of baseball and fans were streaming back to the ballparks to see balls fly over the fence. Read the rest of this entry →

Clemens’ Mistrial is Perfect Ending to Baseball’s Steroid Era 9

Posted on July 16, 2011 by Dean Hybl

Roger Clemens was on trial for lying during a 2008 Congressional hearing.

Given that the “Steroid Era” in baseball has been built on a series of lies, accusations and uncertainties, it seems almost normal for baseball’s darkest era to come to an end with a mistrial in a federal courtroom that accomplished nothing and left as many questions as answers.

Ever since baseballs started flying out of stadiums at uncanny rates beginning in the early 1990s, the game of baseball has been in a civil war between those who believe in preserving the history and sanctity of the sport and those who saw the opportunity for greater success through artificial means.

This battle has left baseball with nearly two decades of inflated statistics and history that no one really knows what to do with.

Baseball purists have always pointed to the purity of statistics as being one of the components that make baseball special. For generations they contended that you could directly compare the statistics of players like Joe DiMaggio, Tris Speaker and Lou Gehrig with Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Sandy Koufax to legitimately determine the greatest players of all-time.

Now in reality that argument is unsupportable as each era has its own nuances that make it difficult to compare with other generations.

Frank “Home Run” Baker earned his nickname by leading the American League in home runs four consecutive years between 1911 and 1914. During those four seasons, he blasted a combined total of 42 home runs, including 9 to lead the league in 1914. Yes, NINE! He finished his 13-year career with 96 home runs and 103 triples.

Just a few years later, a giant lefthander pitcher named George Herman “Babe” Ruth switched from being one of the American League’s most dominant pitchers to being its greatest slugger. He led the AL with 11 home runs in just 95 games in 1918 and in his first full season playing in the field in 1919 set a new single season record with 29 home runs. He hit 54 home runs in 1920 and 59 the following year and in 1921 became MLB’s career a home run leader, a distinction he would hold until 1974. Read the rest of this entry →

  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Dale Murphy: A Hallmark of Excellence
      July 2, 2024 | 1:53 pm
      Dale Murphy

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month was a standout player of the 1980s, remembered not only for his exceptional skills on the field but also for his exemplary character and sportsmanship.

      Born on March 12, 1956, in Portland, Oregon, Dale Murphy’s journey to becoming one of the most respected players in baseball history is a testament to dedication, perseverance, and a genuine love for the game.

      Early Career and Rise to Prominence

      Murphy was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the first round of the 1974 MLB Draft. He made his Major League debut on September 13, 1976, at the age of 20. Initially a catcher, Murphy transitioned to the outfield early in his career, where he would solidify his place as one of the premier outfielders of his era.

      Read more »

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