After witnessing Albert Pujols launch baseballs above Busch Stadium's infamous McDonald's, second-tier bleacher ad last night, my mind immediately raced back to Mark McGwire and the ride he took baseball fans on throughout the summer of 1998.
There's no question that that summer was fantastic. Everyone bought into the race to 61 homers. Now a little more than a decade later, the spotlight returns to St. Louis.
It's fitting, really.
Just as that summer awed baseball fans throughout the country, it would unofficially mark the beginning of Baseball's darkest age: the steroid era.
A decade removed from names on lists, Federal investigations and 50-game suspensions, I want to believe that tonight's game symbolizes a new chapter in the game.
In 10 years from tonight, I hope to look back and find that I was right, that Baseball's public image went from fans passing skepticism on players, to ushering in a new era, one where fans can trust the integrity of the sport.
But that's a tall order and wishful thinking, given that fact that so many have lied and have ducked and dodged investigators.
St. Louis in 1998 offered a paranoia unlike any other time to date.
Can that ballpark, in that tremendous city, offer baseball fans new hope with the direction of the sport?
I understand that changes of this magnitude, is challenging.
However, like St. Louis dug baseball out of the 1994 strike and troubled attendance numbers, it's ironic that St. Louis could dig baseball out of its deepest hole yet.
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