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  • - Hey folks we're here to talk about that preposterous

  • home run chase from 1998 and the kryptonite

  • of Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa.

  • I'm Alex and I know I've been unable to locate

  • my co-mayor of Dorktown Jon Bois but to fill

  • his enormous shoes I did manage to wrangle

  • the internet's top baseball writer

  • Grant Brisbee how the hell are ya?

  • - I'm doing very well can I be the viceroy

  • of Dorktown just as a temporary?

  • - Sounds good to me.

  • - We're gonna talk about McGwire and Sosa.

  • So we're gonna talk about the pitchers

  • who did not allow home runs to them, right.

  • One of these pitchers is Dan Naulty,

  • he is the only person in the Mitchell Report

  • to admit to using performance enhancing drugs.

  • So after using performance enhancing drugs

  • he held McGwire and Sosa homerless.

  • So mentally I'm gonna add one home run

  • to each of their career totals because I don't think

  • that it's fair that someone cheating

  • could have held them homerless.

  • - It's the only reasonable thing to do.

  • (keyboard jingle)

  • Here is each of the 201 pitchers that Mark McGwire

  • faced in 1998 and here is the 211 Sammy Sosa faced.

  • McGwire took 65 of his pitchers deep and Sosa did so to 58.

  • Let's get rid of those dudes and see what we're left with,

  • one name in particular stands out to me,

  • a fellow resident of the NL Central who started

  • five games against Big Mac's Cards and Sosa Cubs.

  • A player who faced each slugger at least seven

  • times without allowing a homer, Mike Hampton.

  • Who held the duo to just four singles

  • and 16 combined plate appearances.

  • Half of which didn't even reach the outfield.

  • Now to be fair Hampton was pretty good this season,

  • both in general and specifically at not allowing home runs.

  • But he certainly wasn't immune to giving up the long ball

  • as two particular examples illustrate wonderfully.

  • Here is every homer allowed by Hampton in '98,

  • let's start with Jim Tatum, it was his final big league

  • homer, or, in other words, his third of three career blasts.

  • Tatum was a fringe player who scraped out a short

  • sporadic career, mostly as a pinch hitter.

  • If aliens had decided to take a peak at planet earth

  • and this whole baseball thing, exclusively using

  • the timeframe of Tatum's career to form their opinions,

  • They'd come away thinking he was just about the very worst batter

  • MLB had to offer, yet he managed to do in his only

  • game against Hampton what McGwire

  • and Sosa couldn't in their combined five.

  • The other is Brian Banks' homer,

  • it was his only homer of the season.

  • The third of 13 for his career,

  • it was also his only plate appearance against Hampton

  • that year and he still accomplished

  • what Hulk and Hulker here couldn't in their 16.

  • Though Tatum and Banks each managed to take

  • Hampton deep for their careers they combined for 16 homers.

  • By the way, you wanna know who hit 16 career

  • homers on his own? Mike Hampton.

  • So Grant, one of my favorite things about Mike Hampton

  • is that he was actually quite good with a bat in his hands.

  • This season, in 1998, his OPS was .676,

  • do you wanna know whose OPS was just

  • 10 points higher than that?

  • - Give it to me.

  • - The Pittsburgh Pirates.

  • - Hampton wasn't in McGwire and Sosa's book in '98

  • but they'd both get him eventually.

  • The pair combined to hit 1,192 home runs over their careers

  • that's 1,192 freaking home runs.

  • That means that there just aren't that many pitchers

  • who faced both and never allowed a home run, right? Huh.

  • Wait, wait was that Bartolo Colon's name?

  • Anyway this is cheating because a lot of the guys

  • on that list faced one or both hitters for one at-bat.

  • Chad Zerbe was a soft tossing left-handed specialist

  • who had no business facing either Sosa or McGwire.

  • But whether in mop up duty or the deepest recesses

  • of extra innings he got his chance and succeeded

  • before telling his manager to never, ever, ever

  • put him in that position again.

  • So who were the frequent flyers,

  • the pitchers who faced both batters for at least

  • 10 plate appearances each and didn't give up a dinger?

  • It's a fun list with a Hall of Famer and a few Cy Youngs

  • but featured some of the best pitchers in the last 30 years

  • actually, pitchers like Chris Peters,

  • after Peters was Luis Aquino whom I don't remember

  • but apparently pitched 26 times against McGwire

  • and Sosa without allowing a homer, good job.

  • After that, though, we have Dwight Gooden,

  • heck yeah now we're talking a name.

  • Except with Gooden on the Mets in his prime

  • and McGwire on the A's we're not talking

  • a clash of the titans here, this is the wily, veteran

  • Gooden in the '90s. Not as exciting but still pretty cool.

  • There were other relievers who held both players homerless

  • too and that was almost certainly their job.

  • Doug Henry and his wondrous mustache

  • had a clean slate in 28 head to head matchups.

  • Steve Reed and his funky submarine delivery did the same,

  • Rich DeLucia and Scott Sanderson were never touched either.

  • And by law I'm required to point out that all of these guys

  • passed through the Giants' bullpen in the early '90s.

  • Dick Pole, the Giants pitching coach then, must have known

  • a secret unless it's a coincidence and I'm just looking

  • for reasons to talk about Dick Pole.

  • Dick Pole, the Giants pitching coach.

  • There are two relievers worth highlighting though,

  • the first is Mark Guthrie who's clean in 46 plate

  • appearances despite being a left-handed specialist.

  • Both McGwire and Sosa hit over .300 against him and Sosa

  • in particular absolutely crushed him —- no dingers though.

  • The other reliever is Michael Jackson

  • who was the setup man specifically tasked with keeping

  • right handers like this in the yard.

  • And that's just what he did for 49 plate appearances,

  • more like the king of no-pop.

  • Alright so I'm gonna give you some pitchers who faced

  • both McGwire and Sosa without allowing a home run.

  • I'm gonna ask you if you remember them.

  • - Okay.

  • - Alright, you ready? Dave Otto.

  • - [Alex] Not at all.

  • - [Grant] Dean Hartgraves?

  • - [Alex] Nope.

  • - [Grant] Alright just scroll down to Everett Stull?

  • - [Alex] Nope.

  • - [Grant] Heath Murray?

  • - [Alex] Nope.

  • - [Grant] J.D. Smart?

  • - Negative. So we know that in '98 McGwire and Sosa

  • combined to go yard in nearly 10% of their 1,387

  • non-Hampton played appearances.

  • That percentage dipped to zero

  • point zero with Hampton on the mound.

  • For one of these guys that couldn't have been more

  • predictive of what would come in the ensuing years.

  • For the other, it couldn't have been less predictive.

  • McGwire's struggles against Hampton weren't simply

  • confined to this/ season. In another 22 times

  • facing each other after 1998, Hampton held him to four

  • hits with just one homer, joining a select group

  • of McGwire adversaries that best-mastered

  • keeping him in the ballpark. But Sosa's post-'98 story

  • against Hampton was 180 degrees different.

  • Sure he stunk when facing him in the '90s

  • but once Y2K hit my goodness he scorched fire to the entire

  • earth when Hampton was on the mound.

  • We hear the expression in sports all the time

  • about a switch being flipped, well, Sosa obliterated

  • the switch in this case. Zero homers in their first

  • 42 showdowns against one another, the,n in their ensuing

  • 17, Sosa pulled out that home run bunny hop six times.

  • So one of my favorite ownages ever of a batter over

  • a pitcher was Sammy Sosa against

  • a guy by the name of Kevin Jarvis.

  • Kevin Jarvis started five career games against Sosa,

  • Sosa homered in all five.

  • - That is by far my favorite Kevin Jarvis fact.

  • - Love you Kevin.

  • - [Grant] As for the starters who held the pair homerless

  • for 10 or more plate appearances each,

  • most of them will be familiar to you.

  • How about a guy named Nolan freakin' Ryan huh?

  • He faced the hitters a combined 28 times and never gave in.

  • Then there's Pat Hentgen, former AL Cy Young winner,

  • and Elmer Dessens, who was probably a runner-up

  • one of those years, I don't have time to check,