I'm sure many of you have been watching the new series on ESPN about The Chicago Cubs Sammy Sosa, and the St. Louis Cardinals Mark McGwire, and their epic summer of 1998 home run duel. I'm also sure many of you are underwhelmed by what you are watching, based on the reviews I've seen.
In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't watch the Michael Jordan series either, but, from what I was told, what made that so compelling was being able to relive the excitement, and skills, of arguably the greatest basketball player of all time. Sosa and McGwire are not either the greatest baseball players of all time, or the most skilled baseball players. They are two of the biggest cheaters in baseball history though.
It's pretty hard to build any interest, or compassion, for two egomaniacs who were only interested in themselves and getting their rewards. Nobody is going to watch, let alone make, a feel good documentary about Bernie Madoff so why ESPN thought this series would be watchable is beyond me.
These two guys, along with countless others, cheated the fans, baseball, and those that came before them, by using and abusing steroids for more than a decade. Commissioner Bud Selig turned a blind eye from all this, and in many ways encouraged it, at a time that baseball was having fan issues because of constant strikes and lockouts. Remember the "Chicks dig the Long Ball" campaign MLB ran? Unusually large men hitting prodigious home runs was bringing fans back to baseball and Bud Selig was in his glory.
What all this shortsightedness brought, was everyone now wondering who used and who didn't? We know McGwire used because he finally admitted it several years after retiring. Sosa has never admitted it, nor has Barry Bonds or Roger Clemens, or many others who keep not getting voted into the Hall of Fame every year.
I was never a Sammy Sosa fan, even in his glory years with the Cubs. I didn't like his act, I didn't like his attitude, I didn't like his me first approach to his team, and while I like to see a homerun just like everyone else, I can appreciate the nuance of a 1-0 pitchers duel as well, just like many of you too.
There was just something not right about that whole era but we couldn't figure out what it was, at the time. It was not until the shit hit the fan with Jose Canseco and the Balco stuff, that we the little people finally found out what baseball knew all along, our stars were cheating. I will never forget the sick feeling I had when I heard this for the first time.
Nobody in their right mind doesn't assume that there has been cheating going on in sports for as long as its been played for money. But nobody was prepared for the depth and length of this whole mess. MLB compounded the mistake by not releasing the names of all those that tested positive when they ran massive testing after congress threatened to take away their antitrust cover.
Remember all the players screaming for baseball to at least tell fans who was clean. They were the ones not cheating, and wanted their names cleared, but Bud was determined to take care of the guys that brought baseball back and screw everyone else. Now almost everyone of that era is struggling to get enough HOF votes because the writers just aren't 100% sure who did and who didn't.
If ESPN really is interested in doing a documentary about steroid users, then they need to delve into the whole sordid issue, and go back to why it all started, who was using, for 100% certainty, how baseball looked the other way, and every little crack and sideshow surrounding this whole era. Place blame where it is due, and give credit to those who stayed clean. This would be an interesting story, not this waste of time about two guys who don't deserve the additional glory.
Baseball is going through another self imposed gunshot wound as they try to figure out how, or if, they should be playing baseball during a pandemic. Running a series about two unlikeable, cheating, blowhards was a bad idea and I won't give ESPN, Sosa, or McGwire the satisfaction of wasting one second of my life watching it.