Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Monday, May 31, 2004

BASEBALL NATION: Why 2004 kicks 1998, pt. 2

Now, there are two counter-arguments that I would like to deal with. I can hear all the devils' advocates complaining: how can you compare one-third of a year to a full season? Let's see what happens in September this year!? There is some truth to this argument, but let me ask all these advocates: can you name me one team that's gonna run away with it this year? The Yankees, potentially dealing with a Boston that's getting Nomar and Nixon back? The Angels, dealing with a ton of injuries, including slugger Troy Glaus' season-ending shoulder injury? And in the NL: preseason favorites Chicago and Houston have injuries to the pitching staff. And no, the mighty Aaron Harang will not help the Reds go all the way. The Padres? That group hasn't ever been in a pennant race, and they lack depth.

Another counter is that the home-run race of '98 was unmatchable. However, I'll take a September extra-inning game between two teams tied for first, with the tension of every pitch, over watching a whole game just to see Mark McGwire come to bat (my apologies to Eli Marrero). The suspense just isn't there. And the Yankees going for yet another win (trying for the record) against the hapless Devil Rays? Please.

Besides, even if you happen to be a fan of individual acheivements, 2004 is full of them. Think Barry Bonds passing Willie Mays, Roger Clemens' incredible start (and passing Steve Carlton on the K-list), and Ben Sheets' 18 K's followed by Randy Johnson's perfect game. (I'm not Gary Cohen or Ed Coleman, so I apologize in advance for leaving out Mike Piazza's record-setting HR.)

One thing I agree with: following the strike, '98 was a huge impact year, as it brought many fans back into the game. But in terms of pure action and excitement, '98 was far from the "Perfect Season."

One more point: One guy not getting enough credit for this year's excitement id the often-maligned commissioner, Bud Selig. Click here for an article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel giving this guy the credit he deserves.


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