Depending on who you ask, there has never been a more interesting and exciting MLB season than the 1998 one. Think back a moment…
You also had the Atlanta Braves winning 106 games but not achieving a winning record. Up north, the New York Yankees were creating their first of three championship season in a row. Meanwhile, down south, the reigning champs, the Florida Marlins, were struggling, and only were able to win 54 games, which put them dead last in the NL East. The team also has the dubious distinction of being the only team to ever win the World Series, and then the following season have more than 100 losses.
There is no doubt about it: 1998 was a crazy year for baseball. Some say that the 2018 season is starting to rev up now, too. Is it possible that this year’s season could rival 1998’s in spectacular fashion? It is, and here’s why:
1998 – Mark McGwire vs Ken Griffey, Jr…2018?
On March 31, 1998, Mark McGwire hit his first homer of the season. It was opening day. Not to be outdone, Ken Griffey, Jr. did the same. This was the start of the race to beat Roger, and a heightened level of excitement for baseball that the country hadn’t seen in years.
Now, 20 years later, both McGwire and Griffey, Jr. are long retired, but a new pair have started their own race to beat a record. Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, both of the New York Yankees, are in competition to beat the record set by Roger Maris in 1961. Barry Bonds currently holds the record at 73 homers in a season, but these two Yankees are already in hot pursuit of a record breaking year. Though the season is still early, they are both on track to at least beating the record set by Maris. Can they beat Bonds? It certainly will be an exciting season to watch and see.
1998 – The Shocking Trade of Mike Piazza…2018?
On May 15, 1998, the Dodgers made a stunning announcement. They were trading Mike Piazza, their star catcher, to the Marlins. People still talk about this today, and it has gone down as one of the most shocking trades in MLB history. To make things even crazier, once Piazza was wearing a Marlins uniform, he only played five games before he was traded again…this time to the Mets.
Here we are now in 2018, and there are whispers of another shocking trade being discussed? Who? Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles. Technically, Machado is still on the team, but insiders believe that it’s only a matter of time before he’s traded, likely to the Cubs, which would definitely be a shock. However, there is also talk that the other team from Chicago, the White Sox, will make a big for Machado, too, if the Orioles release the slugger by the trade deadline, which is in the summer. Other teams have their eyes on Machado, too, however, including the Dodgers, Indians, Phillies, Cardinals, and Yankees. Whatever happens, this should be pretty exciting for MLB diehards who are watching and waiting for any move from the Orioles head office.
1998 – The Mega Brawl Between the Yankees and the Orioles…2018?
If things like homerun battles and shocking trades weren’t enough in 1998, the huge brawl between the Yankees and Orioles also went down that year. If you don’t remember, here’s what happened:
It was May 19, just a few days after the Piazza trade announcement. Perhaps players were on edge, or perhaps people were all in a tizzy due to that trade, but tempers were flying high when the Yankees and Orioles took the field. Bernie Williams, from the Yankees, hit a three-run homer to give the Yankees the lead. Armando Benitez, who was pitching for the Orioles, hit Tino Martinez, the batter, with the next pitch. The Yankees broadcaster, Jim Kaat, immediately called this pitch a “cheap shot,” and all you know what broke loose. This brawl got quite ugly with players punching and pushing each other. The highlight, of course, was Darryl Strawberry punching Benitez right in the smacker.
So, here we are in 2018. Could we see another huge brawl between two MLB teams? Some definitely think this is possible. The infamous rivalry between the Yankees and the Red Sox could certainly push a brawl. There is also potential between the Colorado Rockies and the Padres. It’s pretty rare for teams to get into brawls these days thanks to tighter rules and regulations, but if any big brawl breaks out on the diamond, we bet it will be with one of these pairs.