Counting On To 25 Days

Today’s choice is obvious.

Who else could there be to represent 25 days until Opening Night at Wrigley Field?

25

We all have varying opinions of Mark McGwire, 1998, steroids, a Congressional hearing, confessions and the like. But forget all of that for the moment — just think of how you felt in 1998, especially throughout September 1998.

Mark McGwire in 1998 is the reason I became a Cardinals fan in 2000.

As I’ve said many (probably too many) times before, I was initially a Cubs fan when I started following MLB in the 1980s. From January to June 1988 plus 8/8/88 and 8/9/88, I had an internship in the Cubs media relations office and, afterward, found myself a little burned out and disinterested in baseball.

For 10 years.

The death of Harry Caray in February 1998 (I’d met him during my internship and talked with him before every home game that April through June plus the first unofficial night game on 8/8) made me remember how much I used to love baseball and how much I missed it. I tuned in to the Cubs home opener and slowly got hooked back into what was an exciting season for them — Kerry Wood’s debut in May, Sammy Sosa’s amazing 20-homer June, the Game 163 playoff against the Giants to determine the wild card, etc. Yet as Sammy’s home run total grew along with Mark McGwire’s and the story grew at the national level, I began reading more and more about Mark and started to find him appealing. There was an article in Sports Illustrated — by Rick Reilly, maybe? — that really did it. Continue reading