What if I told you that there are still some great baseball documentaries that need to be made? Out of the 70 docs 30 for 30 has done thus far just seven have been baseball related. Some of the best include the recent Doc and Darryl, Jordan Rides The Bus, and Four Days in October. With so many good stories still to tell, and with more companies getting into the sports doc business, here are the four baseball Reddit mentioned most wanting to see:
1. The 1998 Home Run Race
1998 is arguably the most important season in the history of baseball. Following the strike of '94 this home run record chase is thought of as the most significant factor to regaining fan interest in our national pastime. You would think that someone would have made a great documentary about this already. The only reason I can come up with is that the use of steroids would reflect negatively on MLB, but fuck that. The steroid era was awesome. It doesn't diminish how incredible the summer of '98 was.
The home run race to challenge Roger Maris' record of 61 originally gained attention in '97 when Mark McGwire hit 58 homers and Ken Griffey Jr. hit 56. Sammy Sosa joined the race in June of 1998 when he hit a record 20 home runs in a single month. But it was McGwire's season all along. He homered in the first four games of the season and finished May with 27 home runs, which put him on pace for over 80. Incredibly McGwire sat on 60 home runs just as the Cardinals were set to begin a two game series against Sosa's Cubs. McGwire tied Maris' record in the first game, and then hit his record 62nd home run of the season the very next night with members of the Maris family in attendance.
The fact that the Cardinals and Cubs were playing each other the night of the record breaking homer is the type of stuff deemed too unrealistic for movies. When all was said and done McGwire finished the season with 70 home runs, 147 RBI and a .299 average. Sosa hit 66 homers to go along with 158 RBI and a .308 average to win the MVP award. While Maris' record stood for 37 years McGwire's would last for just three. In 2001 Barry Bonds defied the odds and went on to hit 73 homers. While this was an incredible feat it didn't resonate with fans the way the summer of '98 did.
2. The 2001 Seattle Mariners
116-46 don't mean a thing without the ring. In the past decade we have the seen incredible attention given to the 2007 New England Patriots and 2016 Golden State Warriors as teams that set records in the regular season but didn't deliver a championship. So why does nobody ever mention the 2001 Seattle Mariners? Unlike the Patriots and Warriors the Mariners didn't even make it to the championship, losing in five games to the Yankees in the ALCS.
What's incredible about the Mariners' season is that they set the MLB wins record literally the season after losing Alex Rodriguez, who at the time was one of the five best players in baseball. Despite the loss of A-Rod the '01 Mariners led baseball in runs scored and fewest runs allowed. The major reason for this was the addition of Ichiro Suzuki, who led the league with a .350 batting average and would go on to win both the Rookie of the Year and MVP awards. Outside of Ichiro the roster left a lot to be desired with a supporting cast featuring the likes of Edgar Martinez, Bret Boone, John Olerud, Jamie Moyer, and Freddy Garcia.
The dream regular season has an added layer of torture to it for Seattle fans since it is the last time the Mariners made the playoffs despite winning 93 games in both 2002 and 2003. Although the 116 wins are a MLB record the team registered just the sixth highest winning percentage of all time, due to the fact that more games are played now than the early part of the century. Other ideas for docs related to the 2001 Mariners include Ichiro's journey to America as well as one on the '01 season in general, which also featured Bonds' 73 homers, Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season, baseball returning after 9/11, and a classic seven game World Series featuring the Yankees and Diamondbacks.
3. The Rise And Fall Of The Yankee Dynasty
Has there ever been a sports franchise more universally disliked over a period of time than the Yankees in the late 1990s? This installment of Yankee dominance came right before the league created a more fair revenue sharing system, which gave small market teams a better chance at re-signing their young stars and giving them a better chance to compete. The Yankees combined their endless pockets of money with an impressive core of homegrown talent. The group eventually became to be known as "The Core Four" and featured Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera.
Following the retirement of Don Mattingly after a heartbreaking 1995 playoff loss to the Mariners, the Yankees used this homegrown talent to win the World Series in 1996, which was Joe Torre's first season as Yankee manager. The team made the playoffs in '97 but lost to the Indians in the ALCS, which led to New York winning the next three World Series from 1998-200. Highlights from this three peat include winning 114 games in '98, David Wells and David Cone pitching perfect games, the trade for Roger Clemens in '99, and facing their cross town rivals the Mets in the 2000 World Series.
In 2001 the team came three outs away from a fourth consecutive title but lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks in an all time classic. New York seemed destined to win after the 9/11 attacks on the city, especially after the Yankees came back from a 2-0 World Series hole to win all three games at home in wildly dramatic fashion. Luis Gonzalez's bloop single off Mariano Rivera is considered by many to be the end of this Yankee dynasty. In the six year stretch from 1996-2001 the Yankees won 14 of 16 playoff series and won five pennants with four World Series titles.
4. The Final Night Of The 2011 Season
One of the single best nights of baseball in recent memory. It's honestly hard to believe that the wild card winners from both leagues came down to the final game of the season. Also remember that in 2011 MLB still only had one wild card representative from each league, so everything was on the line. In the American League the Rays were nine games back of the Red Sox on September 3rd. In the National League the Cardinals overcame a 10 game deficit of the Braves. After 161 games of baseball no playoff match ups were set.
The Rays had the most improbable win of the night, coming back from a 7-0 deficit in the eighth inning against the Yankees. After scoring six runs in the bottom of the eighth Tampa Bay sent up Dan Johnson with two outs and none on in the bottom of the ninth. Johnson, a .108 hitter that season up until this moment, homered to tie the game and send it to extra innings. Meanwhile Jonathan Papelbon came in to save a 3-2 Red Sox lead in Baltimore following a lengthy rain delay. The Sox that season were 77-0 when leading after eight innings to this point. Incredibly Papelbon blew the save and mere minutes later Evan Longoria homered in the bottom of the 12th to send the Rays to the playoffs. The Red Sox loss gave the team a 7-20 September record and ended both the Theo Epstein and Terry Francona eras in Boston.
The National League games also featured a devastating blown save. Craig Kimbrel of the Braves also blew a 3-2 lead in the ninth and Atlanta ultimately lost to the Phillies in 13 innings. The Cardinals had the only anticlimactic game of the evening, taking a 5-0 first inning lead on going on to win easily behind a gem from Chris Carpenter. This win had huge implications for St. Louis, who went on to win the World Series in Albert Pujols' final season with the team. Ultimately there was no game 163 in either league and the night of September 28, 2011 is still regarded as one of the best in MLB history.