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Buster Olney recalls how the players were so into the Sosa-McGwire HR battle of 1998

Buster Olney recalls how the players were so into the Sosa-McGwire HR battle of 1998

ESPN's esteemed documentary series "30-for-30" is releasing a new piece entitled "Long Gone Summer," which details the 1998 MLB season when Cardinals 'Mark McGwire and Cubs' Sammy Sosa captivated the country with a tainted, but entertaining home run race.

With "Long Gone Summer," premiering Sunday at 8 p.m., the Nationals Talk Podcast was joined by ESPN Senior Writer Buster Olney.

"I remember how into it opposing players were," Olney said. "Every time Sammy came to the plate, they were locked in. There was so much excitement."

Olney covered the Yankees for the New York Times during the 1998 season. 

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"One weekend the Times sent me down to do a piece on McGwire and the excitement around batting practice -- my goodness. It was all legitimate."

Sosa and McGwire went dinger-for-dinger in the '98 season, with the help of Performance Enhancing Drugs of course -- Sosa finished with 66 homers, while McGwire sent 70 over the wall, both obliterating Roger Maris' previously held record of 61 homers. 

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"Watching this play out and watching bodies grow at that time. you knew something was going on," Olney said. "It was like watching Lance Armstrong in 2001-2003 -- you know something is going on but you can’t prove it."

While reflecting on that polarizing season, NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes asked Olney if he thinks he'll ever see something remotely close to what Sosa and McGwire displayed. 

"After what we saw last year I don’t think I can answer your question until we learn what the composition of a baseball is," Olney said.

"It wouldn't shock me though." 

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Max and Erica Scherzer announce ‘Nats for Masks’ initiative

Max and Erica Scherzer announce ‘Nats for Masks’ initiative

Max Scherzer and his wife, Erica, have announced the formation of a new organization called 'Nats for Masks' that will help provide masks to underprivileged and at-risk populations in DMV area.

As part of the initiative, the Scherzers will auction off some of their personal collection of memorabilia to support COVID-19 relief efforts in the DMV. Some of the auction items available included autographed game-used jerseys, caps, and even Max’s 2019 All-Star Game nameplate.

Giving back to the community is nothing new to the Scherzer family. As animal lovers, back in 2017 during the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the Scherzer’s rallied to cover adoption fees for all animals at the Washington-based Humane Rescue Alliance in order to make space for animals brought in from Houston.

Erica is also on the Board of Directors of the Humane Rescue Alliance, and Max has also contributed in the past in a PSA to raise awareness for the shelter.

https://twitter.com/HumaneRescue/status/861982319892193284?s=20

As if we needed another reason to adore the Scherzer family and what they do for our community, just add this to the list.

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Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Stephen Strasburg will start for Nationals Sunday against Orioles

Davey Martinez said Friday that Stephen Strasburg will start Sunday against the Baltimore Orioles.

Strasburg has yet to pitch this season because of a right wrist impingement which led to a nerve problem in his right hand. He missed his first start, slated for the second game of the season on July 25, then what would have been his second start five days later. Strasburg said his hand was falling asleep in the middle of the night. The Nationals medical staff needed to give Strasburg multiple injections in his hand in order to help the pain subside.

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He threw a heavy bullpen session Wednesday before throwing 32 pitches in a simulated game. Martinez said Strasburg felt well during the simulated game, so instead of continuing, they had him stop in order to throw 70-plus pitches Sunday against Baltimore.

"The tingling in his thumb is gone," Martinez said Friday. "That's a good sign. We watched him, like I said, he's thrown some really good [bullpen sessions]. That was the big thing for me. Nothing in his mechanics has changed. Everything's good. Based on conversations with him, he feels good. He wants to pitch. He's ready to pitch on Sunday."

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Max Scherzer left his Wednesday start after just an inning because of a hamstring "tweak" from the day before when he was running sprints. He was expected to play catch Friday. Martinez labeled him "day-to-day."

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