The 'Pastime' Again

Keep an eye on Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire. Not just their rocketing home runs, but the nature of their head-to-head competition.

These two play a game that many have said is past being the national pastime. Fewer are saying such things this season. Credit for that goes both to the home-run derby participants and to such enduring stars as Cal Ripken Jr., who just ended his remarkable streak, playing 2,632 consecutive games.

Next spring should see a record turnout for Little League. And the kids should run onto the diamond with more on their minds than dreams of McGwire- or Sosa-like blasts beyond the outfield. They should also be thinking of the sportsmanship and good nature shown by these big-league standouts.

Both McGwire and Sosa appear to understand that it's doing your best each day that counts - not just who comes out on top. Asked if he'd be disappointed if Sosa had more homers than he at the end of the season, McGwire scoffed, remarking that it was already an "unbelievable year." Sosa commented, "hitting home runs is not what I'm thinking about." His goal, he said, is to help get his team into the playoffs.

McGwire and Sosa are making every remaining day in the season a possible record-breaker. The big redhead who grew up in the LA suburbs and his friendly rival from the poor neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic will be united forever in baseball lore and history, no matter who ends up atop the home-run tally.

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