I’m not going to review Long Gone Summer (because Brett basically did that in the Bullets this morning), but I will say this: instead of marketing what was ultimately a Mark McGwire documentary to both Chicago and St. Louis as a rivalrous back-and-forth retelling of the 1998 HR battle, why didn’t they just actually make that documentary? Clearly, they thought that was the more interesting angle, but they decided to stop at the title and the promotional materials.
And just to show you I’m not being unfair: yes, McGwire does deserve the extra attention and even his own documentary (he did set the record, after all), but … he’s got about 1/10th the charisma of Sammy Sosa, who got maybe 1/5th as much screen time. It was a mess. And frankly, it was about as boring as St. Louis. At least we got some new Sammy Sosa Obvious Shirts out of it (and 30% off with the code SAMMY30).
The other good news is that Sosa made himself available immediately after the documentary for a quick hit on ESPN (see below), before jumping on 670 The Score (embedded below) this morning to discuss … well pretty much everything you wish they actually addressed in doc. His comments were pretty similar across both interviews, down to the word choice; so here’s roughly everything he had to say – quotes and faithful paraphrasing where I was able:
• Clearly, I wasn’t the only one thinking there wasn’t enough Sosa in the doc, because it was the first question lobbed his way on The Score. But like a great politician, Sosa didn’t bite and said simply that he was glad to get paired back with McGwire to talk about that great summer. He went onto say he was just happy to “be there” in 1998, when he enjoyed every minute of that home run battle. He also enjoyed taking some of the pressure off McGwire (i.e. sharing the spotlight with him), while staying right on his tail until the very end.
• For everything that happened that summer, Sosa wants to say “Thank you” to the city of Chicago. He says he has a lot to tell the fans, and that he owes them everything he has. And when he does finally come back (whenever that is), he expects there to be a lot of tears: “I really, really really want to say so much to the fans for their appreciation and support of me … Oof it’s going to be a very good time, coming back to Chicago.”
• So why hasn’t that happened yet? “Look, my [phone] number’s there. What can I say?” They welcomed back Mark McGwire to St. Louis and welcomed back Barry Bonds San Francisco, so I don’t know what I’ve got to go through to come back to Chicago. Time will heal everything, maybe in the near future I’ll get the same treatment they give the rest of the players.
• (Well, here we are at one of those moments, right? Sosa decidedly did NOT just admit to taking steroids, but he also mentions reunions of the two most famous steroid users of all-time. Brett’s going to get into these non-admissions later on, but it felt worth addressing in passing here.)
• All right, so we know the Cubs haven’t extended an olive branch to Sosa yet, but what about him? Has he reached back out to the Cubs to try to make something work? “Definitely,” Sosa began, “[But] They haven’t reached out to me. Me, I’m available. I’m easy to find.” Taking it a step further, Sosa said if “they do that step, I’m willing to do also my step.”
• Admittedly, that’s all a little unclear. What step must the Cubs do and what step is Sosa talking about for himself? I do know that Sosa believes time will heal the wound and he will eventually return to Chicago.
Lets hope time will heal all, others are back with team and I 'd like to be too says #sammysosa I have reached out to #Cubs I am available, but nothing has happend yet. We will see. – Listen @670TheScore via @Radiodotcom
— Mully And Haugh (@mullyhaugh) June 15, 2020
Sammy Sosa: "Time will heal everything."
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) June 15, 2020
• Although I didn’t understand the point of the question, Sosa was asked if it hurt players like Sammy when McGwire came out and admitted to using performance enhancing drugs. Sosa responded: “I don’t want to get in other people’s business, but when I’m talking about myself, I never tested positive … I haven’t tested positive. So … nah, it’s not too hard to deal with.
• Obviously, that response is important – we get the infamous “I never tested positive” line again, which doesn’t really fool anybody. We all know what that doesn’t say about him. But I’m not entirely sure what they were hoping to get him to say about McGwire. Either way, I generally want to applaud Sosa for maintaining a positive, internally-focused attitude. He has avoided a TON of unnecessary drama throughout the months leading up to this documentary, and he did it again right there.
• And in terms of that moment in the documentary when he said “Why focus on me?” All Sosa had to say is he doesn’t understand why he has to take the blame for everybody else. And the conversation switched to the Hall-of-Fame.
• On his Hall-worthiness, Sosa is quite clear, saying “the numbers don’t lie,” before dropping this one:
Sammy Sosa: "Of course I belong in the Hall of Fame."
— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) June 15, 2020
• But it’s more complicated than that. He seems to believe he’s gotten the short-end of the stick when it comes to the writers who vote on the Hall-of-Fame candidates, despite always treating them well, and doing any interview asked of him. But here’s the thing … (1) If Barry Bonds, who has a MUCH better case, is still not in the Hall-of-Fame … well, then it’s really not all that confusing why Sosa isn’t. And (2) I’m not 100% certain Sosa belongs in the Hall-of-Fame based on his numbers, alone. There’s definitely an argument to be made, especially if you include importance to the fabric of the game. But that’s still not an obvious case in my mind, and that’s excluding the steroids, cork, and lack of an admission (which, again, I don’t need to welcome him back to the Cubs, but the HOF voters are a different audience entirely).
• Sosa also said he’s “Always available when Chicago needs” him: “I’m not in a rush. [But] I would love to come back, no question about it.”
• What were Sosa’s emotions when the Cubs finally won the World Series in 2016? “I was very happy for them, especially the city of Chicago. We had a chance in 2003, but it didn’t happen … [But when they won] I had tears in my eyes. I wish them the best.” Sosa complimented the 2016 Cubs defense, offense, and pitching, all of which he considered incredible.
• Sosa made a joke that last season, the ball was juiced, not the players. Which … lol. I don’t know, man. That’s a very fine line to joke on coming from someone who can’t admit what he did.
• Last topic: Does he regret leaving early/leaving the Cubs in 2004? Sosa wants to make it clear, he should have stayed, but he didn’t just leave early. He asked for permission and got it from manager Dusty Baker (via … his trainer?). In any case, he says “I should have stayed, because it was the last game of the season.” Sosa thinks that story blew up, because everyone was looking for someone to blame for that disappointing season.
It feels worth noting that Sosa’s people told The Score they were allowed/able to ask any question they wanted, with no restrictions.
— Brett (@BrettGHughes) June 15, 2020