Going back 10 years time brought back plenty of memories, spurred on by reading the magazines of that time. Here are a few things that stood out, including one of my favorite photos – Bryce Drew sending Valpo to the second round, as his dad calmly watches:
- Hot-button sports issues featured in the March 23, 1998 issue included Casey Martin vs. the PGA tour (for the right to use a cart), a photo of PJ Carlesimo’s mangled neck after his confrontation with Latrell Sprewell, teams wondering about whether to take a chance on Marshall wide receiver Randy Moss (with Chicago Bears scouts calling him the best wide receiver of the last 20 years … one can only imagine what they said about their first-round draft pick, Curtis Enis) and the type of quote that serves as an ink-and-paper car crash: “San Diego doesn’t have a pick in rounds two through four this year and in round one in 1999, but at least it will have a quarterback who it can build around.” – Peter King, on taking either Peyton Manning or Ryan Leaf.
- The current Sports Illustrated takes full advantage of baseball statistical analysis, using the writers of Baseball Prospectus to write many of its “Inside Baseball” features and sidebars. But to see how things have changed since 1998, check out the Sept. 14 issue, with a multitude of references to eye-popping batting averages that year but not one reference to our friend, on-base percentage.
- Stats that do stand out from that year, however, just boggle the mind. The 39-year-old Ricky Henderson steals 66 bases. Alex Rodriguez goes 40-40 as a shortstop and finishes NINTH in the AL MVP race. In a precursor to CC Sabathia’s strong Milwaukee start, the Mariners trade Randy Johnson to the Astros at the deadline. He lays the league to waste, with 10 wins and 116 Ks in 84 innings. And the toolsiest man this side of Tim Taylor – Eric Davis – comes back from cancer to hit 28 homers and put up a 151 OPS+ in his last great hurrah.
- Two things caught my attention during the 1998 Fox broadcast of McGwire’s 62nd home run (featured in the Greatest Games of Busch Stadium DVD set). One, as someone who holds fond memories of Tripp Cromer, I know my marginal Cardinals. But Luis Ordaz gets the start at shortstop for this momentus occasion? His name completely skipped my mind. Then you consider Royce Clayton’s year, and the whole position must have been wiped from my memory that season. Second, some Cubs fans I know still hold Gary Gaetti in high esteem for his 128 at-bats that season, and it’s easy to see why. He tattooed the ball that last month of the season, but showed no sign of that possibility with the Cardinals. As much as my immediate inclination was to wonder why there wasn’t a trade instead of an outright release of Gaetti, the Cubs stumbled into a jackpot there at its cursed, pre-Aramis Ramirez position.