Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles - 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, and Danny Jackson and Todd Stottlemyre.