Thursday, July 15, 2010


How many of us can remember the great homerun chase of 1998? I’m sure everyone, baseball fan or not, remembers that year. So maybe a better question is, who misses the action and excitement that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa created?

I certainly do.

In 1961, Roger Maris hit 61 home runs for the New York Yankees. For the next 36 years, only 6 players (Willie Mays, George Foster, Cecil Fielder, Albert Belle, Brady Anderson, Mark McGwire) hit 50+ home runs. Then came the year of the home run.

Baseball, if you remember, was still trying to win back fans from the strike-shortened 1994 season. When the strike ended in 1995, fans were upset and attendance at stadiums plunged. Major League Baseball needed something to win fans back, and it came in the form of a home run.

Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs and Mark McGwire of the St. Louis Cardinals forever changed the way we will look at the game of baseball. These two men set off on a pace that generated a wave of excitement and much-needed drama that the sport of baseball desperately needed.

At the end of June (approximately half the season), McGwire had 37 home runs, and Sosa had 33 home runs. By this time, the talk of every baseball fan was whether or not these 2 sluggers could reach Roger Maris’s record of 61 home runs that had stood for 37 years.

Summer was here and every household, baseball fan or not, was catching nightly highlights of the home run chase. Fans were filling up stadiums hoping to catch a glimpse of a home run. They were arriving at the ballparks hours before the games to watch batting practice, with the hopes of catching one of their home runs.

By the end of August, both sluggers were tied with 55 home runs. It seemed that the home run record was within sights, and fans had completely forgotten about how angry they were about the strike-shortened season of 1994. Then on September 7th and 8th, the Cubs and Cardinals came together for a classic showdown between the two sluggers. Sosa had 58 home runs and McGwire had 60 home runs. America was glued to their TV sets ready to watch history. On September 7th, McGwire tied Maris’s record of 61 home runs. The following day, McGwire took a Steve Trachsel pitch over the left field fence to break the home run record. Even though McGwire had broken the record, the race was still not over. McGwire hit a drought, and Sosa ended up catching him with 66 home runs on September 25th. This set the stage for the final 2 days of the regular season. In the end, McGwire hit 4 more home runs in the final 2 games of the season to end with 70, while Sosa ended with 66 home runs.

Obviously, the steroid controversy that came out years later damaged a lot of people’s opinions of these two players, and numerous others. And if you want to say that the 1998 home run chase never happened because these two guys were using steroids, you are free to do so. But you can’t argue with the fact that this was the excitement that baseball needed.

Major League Baseball had regained the public’s attention and fans were going back to the ballparks everyday. Ticket sales were up and television ratings had increased dramatically. Kids went to their local baseball fields and played home run derby with their friends, seeing who can hit it the furthest and how many home runs they can hit. Phrases such as, “Chicks Dig The Long Ball” became widely popular. Fathers were taking their kids to ball games with the hopes of sharing some memories, much like their fathers did with them when Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams were playing. America was hanging on the outcome of this home run chase.

It wasn’t until 7 years later that steroid allegations put a huge cloud over baseball, and to the way fans looked at these baseball players hitting the long ball. But for that one season in 1998, we were all addicted to the game of baseball. And no matter who you were rooting for, we could all relate to one of these two players. McGwire was the all-American Southern California boy that grew up excelling at every level playing baseball. Sosa came to the ballpark with a smile on his face, and you could see how much he loved the fans as he raced out to right field everyday.

What would’ve happened to the game of baseball had the great home run chase of 1998 never happened? We will never know, but what did occur that summer saved baseball and brought everyone back to the ballparks.

It saved baseball at a time when baseball needed to be saved.

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Dear Daniel Gilbert,

Let me first start by saying this is very tough.

I want to start by apologizing for not notifying you in advance of my decision to not come back to the Cleveland Cavaliers. In all honesty, I went out and got the new 4G iPhone the day before my ESPN ‘Decision’ special, and I wanted to set-up a video call to you, but it was hard to get a good signal in Cleveland, which is why I went out and bought the Motorola Droid today in South Beach.
Anyways, as you know by now, I have decided to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat. I have been with the Cavs organization the last 7 years, with the last 5 years under your ownership. And there’s one thing that really got under my skin.

Do you realize that during the last 5 years you have never once given me a hug? Not once.

I’m writing you to let you know that LeBron James doesn’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal. I deserve so much more. All I ever wanted from you was a hug. Nothing more, nothing less. I never asked much of you, and it really pisses me off that you couldn’t take time out of your hectic schedule to give me a 10-second man hug.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take that to the bank.

You purchased the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise in 2005 for $375 million. When our season ended this past season, it was valued at $476 million. Why do you think that is? It’s all because of me. I have made you so much money over the last 5 years, and you still can’t find it in your heart to give me one damn hug. You don’t deserve what I brought to your franchise. I put the Cleveland Cavs franchise on the map for you.

But it’s okay, I’m over it and I’ve moved on.
Do you mind if I ask you a random question? If this gets out to the public, I will deny it to my death. Chris and Dwayne both told me on separate occasions last year that they called my cell phone during one of our regular season games in April. They said that you answered my phone inside the locker room and pretended to be me. I don’t mind if you did, but what I want to know is, at any point in your conversations with them that night, did they mention to you that we have been planning this arrangement since the Olympics in 2008? Did they mention that Pat Riley was in on the entire operation?

We tried using code names and phrases to hide our collusion techniques from everyone.
Did you ever hear us using the phrase, CSI: Miami? I bet you really thought we all got together on Monday nights to watch the show, huh? I don’t know if you noticed, but the length of all our contracts are the same. We signed for 6 years each to see how this might work, but if it doesn’t work out, all 3 of us can opt out after the 4th year and go to another city. And trust me when I tell you, I will do another ‘Decision’ special. Don’t get your hopes up though, Chris doesn’t like Cleveland.
Another question I have for you is regarding the 10 foot story sign of me in downtown Cleveland. I know you took it down yesterday, but what are you going to do with it? If you’re not going to put it up in your mansion, is there any chance I can get that back from you?

Apparently, Miami is working with Nike so they can fix it and hang it on the side of the Clevelander Hotel in South Beach. So if you can send that overnight to me, I’d greatly appreciate it. I’d even be willing to pay for the shipping. I just signed a $110 million contract, but you probably don’t want to hear about that. Have it sent to American Airlines Arena since I don’t have a mailing address down here yet. Once I buy my first mansion down here, I’ll be sure to text message you my address.

Now I know you want me to take the curse of Cleveland, Ohio with me to South Beach, but my team of smart advisors have advised me that this would not be a good idea.

I will be leaving the curse of Cleveland with you, and until you do right by me (all I need is a hug), you will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, Danny-boy.

Tomorrow is supposed to be in the mid 90’s here in South Beach.
In Cleveland, it’s supposed to be overcast with a chance of thundershowers (and you were shocked I didn’t stay in Cleveland, when I can relax in unbelievable weather down here in Miami).

TEAM JAMES PROMISES you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge, and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING TO AMERICA several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up ‘SPECIALS’ that is unlike anything you’ve ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and entertainment.

LBJ - The King
Proud member of the Miami Heat