On Sunday night, ESPN released their 30 for 30 documentary “Long Gone Summer.” Similar to “The Last Dance,” the idea of this film has been in the works for years, but due to complications, it wasn’t brought to us until this summer.
The film was expedited in a quicker fashion than it was originally set out to be, so I will cut them slack in that sense. Director AJ Schnack came out early in the film and shared his St. Louis roots, and oh buddy, by the end of the film, if you couldn’t figure out the film was made by a Cardinals fan, you might be blind. I almost fell asleep around the one hour mark because I was so tired of seeing Tony La Russa, Mark McGwire, some rich dude who collects baseballs and B-roll shots of modern-day crowds in a documentary about 1998. I have a hard time believing Schnack and his crew didn’t have the necessary shots to make the adjustments.
One thing that is undeniable about the dinger smacking duo, is that they both played equal parts in essentially saving the game of baseball. I find it interesting that they have a chance to wake up the MLB right now to get a season going before they go through another potential shift in popularity as fans are hungry for a season. So, it makes me beg the question of why was it not equal parts of McGwire and Sosa in this doc? The way it was advertised to us had me thinking the Cubs were playing game 7 of the World Series last night, and by the end of the film, I just did not feel that our guy Sammy Sosa was given a fair shake in this clear McGwire doc. As it felt like the McGwire special with a side order of Sosa and La Russa.
Sosa and McGwire were hitting moon shots left and right, and I honestly can say we don’t see anybody hit a baseball like that anymore. Whether you believe they were juicing or not, you cannot tell the story of baseball without mentioning Sosa, McGwire, and the 1998 HR Chase. Baseball purists are arguably the most annoying fan type, and it showed when the documentary touched on the Roger Maris chase to 61 home runs. Baseball needs electricity, they need home runs and honestly, records are made to be broken. Give me the drunk guy who’s spilling his beer on me every time a ball is hit, over the baseball purist every single day and twice on that Sunday doubleheader.
There was no shortage of mullets, goofy sunglasses, oversized polos and even an appearance from the GOAT and his parachute esque jeans.
One thing the film did execute perfectly was the usage of older broadcasters and reporters like Jack Buck, Harry Caray, and Stuart Scott. In my opinion, the film was more of a highlight reel than a traditional documentary, but again at many points throughout the film, I’m sitting there asking myself where the hell is Sammy, and give us more Sammy and less random Cardinals fans brown-nosing McGwire.
Why are we leaving this story to be told by the people around it as opposed to the people that directly took place in the chase? As a Sammy Sosa fan, I feel robbed and would honestly rather have heard more from him throughout the film. I feel that this film could have been a beneficiary to getting Sammy back to Wrigley, and they wait until the final eight minutes to touch on it. Cubs fans need a better documentary to properly tell the story of the man who refilled those bleachers at Wrigley and saved baseball.
Sammy has remained humble, he seems at peace and he just wants to be welcomed back to the place he had so many memories at. It is an egregious crime against humanity to not embrace this man all because of an anonymous report from a New York Times reporter. It was never proven he took steroids, the Cubs organization needs to get it together and get this man back for Opening Day. He’s a clear cut Hall of Famer, and at the very least deserves to be welcomed back to Wrigley Field and have his number retired by the Cubs.