Summer of 1998: My Childhood Dead and Buried

Dan PazosCorrespondent IJune 16, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 18:   Sammy Sosa #21 of the Texas Rangers looks on against the Oakland Athletics  during a Major League Baseball game on July 18, 2007 at McAfee Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

I remember a time growing up when I was just a naive, young kid. I loved the game of baseball, and still do.

In 1998, I was eight years old and in the prime of my childhood. It was a simpler time then. The Yankees were the best team baseball had ever seen, and the Red Sox couldn't buy a playoff win.

But above all, in the middle of that summer, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire captivated me.

My friends and I would head out to my backyard on a hot afternoon and pretend to be guys like McGwire and Sosa, attempting to hit the ball into the next yard for a home run. There was no better feeling than when the ball connected with my bat the right way, with the summer sun beating down on me, and I just felt it take off into the next yard.

Then, when the sun went down, we would head inside to play as McGwire and Sosa on Nintendo, extending our baseball dreams one step further.

We looked up to players like them, idolized them, and hoped to play like them when our little league games came around.

I even had a book about that home run race I must have read 100 times.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, here is the moment we have all been waiting for. The moment that puts one more clod of dirt on the grave of my childhood baseball memories.

It's the final moment that cements the fact that the baseball I grew up with was a sham and a joke.

Sosa's name has finally shown up on a steroid report.

Since the time of his official retirement on June 3, Sosa was confident that all he had to do was sit back and calmly wait for his induction into Baseball's Hall of Fame. Somebody should tell Sosa that communication was never his strong point.

The New York Times reported today that Sosa tested positive for steroids in 2003.

Sosa, who is now 40 years old, is still using the old denial route when asked about baseball. But Sosa's angle is a new one which I have not seen used by other players who have tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs.

According to the New York Times, Sosa testified that everything he had heard "about steroids and human growth hormones is that they are bad for you, even lethal” and  Sosa “would never put anything dangerous like that” in his body.

Apparently, Sosa never applied this logic in reality, as his name has constantly come up in steroid talks.

Sosa is eligible for Cooperstown in 2013, but his fate will be similar to that of fellow home run racer and steroid juicer McGwire.

In order to be accepted into the hallowed grounds of Cooperstown, players need at least 75 percent of the vote. McGwire received 23.5 percent of the vote in 2007, 23.6 in 2008, and just 21.9 this year.

Although McGwire's career stats are not as good as Sosa's, the difference testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs makes for a player trying to get into the Hall of Fame is overwhelming.

Sosa will never get that call from Cooperstown, and none of the potential players who have the statistics for the Hall of Fame will make it to the Hall of Fame.

If I could somehow travel back in time, I would find myself at that young age and explain to my friends and I that these guys are cheaters and to look up to someone honest.

I would also burn that home run book and my Sosa card I got out of a vending machine for $3.

I truly feel sorry for every kid who is around my age and grew up watching guys like Sosa, McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Roger Clemens in their prime in the mid-to-late 1990s.

Their young baseball dreams have been tainted forever.