Buster Olney recalls how the players were so into the Sosa-McGwire HR battle of 1998

Quinton Mayo
NBC Sports Washington

ESPN's esteemed documentary series "30-for-30" is releasing a new piece entitled "Long Gone Summer," which details the 1998 MLB season when Cardinals 'Mark McGwire and Cubs' Sammy Sosa captivated the country with a tainted, but entertaining home run race.

With "Long Gone Summer," premiering Sunday at 8 p.m., the Nationals Talk Podcast was joined by ESPN Senior Writer Buster Olney.

"I remember how into it opposing players were," Olney said. "Every time Sammy came to the plate, they were locked in. There was so much excitement."

Olney covered the Yankees for the New York Times during the 1998 season. 

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"One weekend the Times sent me down to do a piece on McGwire and the excitement around batting practice -- my goodness. It was all legitimate."

Sosa and McGwire went dinger-for-dinger in the '98 season, with the help of Performance Enhancing Drugs of course -- Sosa finished with 66 homers, while McGwire sent 70 over the wall, both obliterating Roger Maris' previously held record of 61 homers. 

LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW ON THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

"Watching this play out and watching bodies grow at that time. you knew something was going on," Olney said. "It was like watching Lance Armstrong in 2001-2003 -- you know something is going on but you can't prove it."

While reflecting on that polarizing season, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes asked Olney if he thinks he'll ever see something remotely close to what Sosa and McGwire displayed. 

"After what we saw last year I don't think I can answer your question until we learn what the composition of a baseball is," Olney said.

"It wouldn't shock me though." 

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Buster Olney recalls how the players were so into the Sosa-McGwire HR battle of 1998 originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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