September 12, 2023 by Cory Dell
Major League Baseball endured a strike during the 1994 season that drove many baseball fans away. Over the next few years, MLB struggled to bring back their diehard fanbase and the game was in a standstill despite future Hall of Famers dominating the sport. However, the 1998 season would bring a dash of magic and capture the hearts of baseball fans everywhere. Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa battled to dethrone Roger Maris’ hallowed single-season HR record. Along the way, the friendship that developed between these two players put a final exclamation on the season and ushered Major League Baseball back to the forefront of the sports world.
The Great Race of ’98 Program allows Diamond Dynasty players to relive this incredible season, with a slew of rewards along the way.
Let’s talk about it.
The Great Race of ’98 features a fairly beefy program with plenty to do. All told, it’s no different than every other program that’s been released. The typical formula of Moments, PXP/stat missions, Conquest and Showdown with the ability to lock relevant cards into collections for program stars is in place. There’s quite a bit of grinding required as the program requires a total of 150 program stars in order to complete it and unlock Mark McGwire and friends.
The Great Race of ’98 event is running strong and you can earn program stars by locking in the event rewards. Collect the following cards for progress:
A couple notes. Firstly, this collection will only pay out the program stars if locked in before the event ends on September 15. Secondly, you can double-dip with the August Monthly Awards Program and earn the same amount of program stars there for the same collection. Being able to earn progress in two programs simultaneously is a huge value time wise, so it makes it worth doing if you’re down for online play.
In addition to the event collection, there’s also a collection for the Great Race of ’98 Choice Pack that was released. A total of five-97 overall cards are included in the Base round with three-99 overall cards in the Rare round.
Collecting the following will pay out the following program stars:
These are the same boringly built 97 overall cards that have been shoveled down our throats all year. Choice Packs like this always have lower-tier Base rounds, but we’ve seen so many 97 overalls this year that it just feels like overkill talking about them all the time.
There’s also a collection for the Rare round which actually features some nasty cards:
This Rare round packs a punch and features legitimate top cards at each respective position. If you pull or buy these cards, they’ll slot into your starting lineup and rotation and make an immediate impact. Green and Delgado have fantastic swings and Kerry Wood has some of the best pure stuff of any SP in Diamond Dynasty.
Unlike the Event collection that expires on September 15, the Choice Pack collections do not expire. That means you can work on the program slowly and potentially complete it in the future as the packs are either handed out in programs (you get a free pack in this program) or discounted during flash sales.
There’s a total of twenty Moments included in the program and they each pay out 2 program stars each totaling 40 stars.
The Moments feature the program cards you earn along the way (we’ll talk about them soon) and are thankfully fairly easy. You know the drill by now. Put your head down and grind out these Moments and then move on to the next phase of the grind.
Buckle in because the little variance that exists in the program design is here. In previous similar programs, SDS experimented with forcing players to lock in cards in order to complete the program. This is very anti-user and I’m glad to see they changed their ways here.
Instead of being forced into the collections, there’s a repeatable PXP mission that isn’t completely unreasonable but will certainly add to the required time for completion. The missions are as follows:
Having an online exclusive mission is a bit annoying. I get the idea is to drive people into trying online, but sometimes those of us with less time to play like being able to just chill offline and get the rewards. At least the repeatable mission is there, however, so either way you can stay offline and still complete the program.
There’s also missions for simply hitting HRs in Diamond Dynasty. It’s not efficient to list them all out as it’s just varying numbers of HR’s, all of which stack. Ultimately, you just need to hit 70 HRs in Diamond Dynasty with any players to commemorate McGwire’s final total in 1998. You’ll earn a total of 24 program stars for hitting nukes.
The requisite Showdown is included as well. Take down Kerry Wood in the final Showdown to complete it and earn 15 program stars.
Finally, there’s a new Conquest map to grind and earn some goodies along with 20 program stars once completed. It’s a good way to get the PXP and stat grinds started, assuming you’ve acquired some of the Great Race of ’98 cards. Regardless, you can at least start compiling the HRs needed and begin unlocking additional program cards that way.
Along with the relatively useless icons and bat skins, you’ll earn the following in the program path:
That’s gonna be a no from me, dawg. This card has been roasted non-stop since the program dropped but I can’t help but pile on. This card being a 99 overall featured alongside McGwire is nothing short of hilarious. Just hear me out.
Sosa’s Live Series collection card is an Awards card, highlighting his MVP award in 1998. It’s still one of the best OF cards in the game and I’m still rocking this card in my God Squad outfield. This card highlights Sosa’s efforts in the great race of 1998. It’s a different card, from the same year, yet this card looks like an impostor. It’s an absolute fake. This is a card collecting mode after all. Maybe this is SDS attempt at introducing “counterfeit” cards into Diamond Dynasty. Because this 99 overall Sammy Sosa from 1998 looks absolutely nothing like the one we’ve had all year.
Just absolutely bonkers.
Ok that’s better. This card is absolutely disgusting in all the best ways.
This is the Mark McGwire card we all wanted.
Nearly perfect offensive attributes across the board, only missing the mark of 125 everything by sneaking in with 114 CON L. Everything else about this card is just lovely. Even the defensive side! This McGwire features 75 Fielding and 70 Reaction which is way better than I’d have thought. We also get Dead Red and Breaking Ball Hitter as well as some other Quirks. There’s nothing else to say. This McGwire is a beast and I’m thankful we got him.
With Set 4 cards effectively being Core cards, meaning they won’t rotate out of Ranked since all sets unlock with Set 6 – I think it’s safe to say I found my Designated Hitter for the rest of the year. Sorry, Giancarlo.
The Great Race of ’98 program delivers the uber McGwire we’ve been waiting for while padding our binders with more Set 4 cards. There’s definitely some questionable elements here, though. I think the online only mission is a huge eyesore and I don’t understand why SDS can’t just include a bevy of online and offline missions. I don’t believe anyone should ever be forced to do anything in these games, yet time after time that’s what happens. Maybe I’m harping on it too much, as the repeatable PXP mission offsets the requirement. It’s not even so much the inclusion of an online only mission, it’s the exclusion of a variety of missions.
There’s also the counterfeit Sammy Sosa card. It’s just a buzzkill that the cards were doled out the way they were. It doesn’t take too much thought to understand the logic, I suppose. Sosa’s Awards card is insane so it makes sense as a Live Series collection reward. The A’s version of McGwire was included so they could shift Derek Jeter to the MLB collection, ultimately pushing for more Stub sales. Pretty basic business strategy. The best look would have been Sosa as the MLB reward, Big Mac as the N.L. reward and Jeter as the A.L. reward but you can’t really argue with Jeter either. That card is still nuts and still one of the best SS in the game. It’s just such a weird look to have a neutered Sosa included here.
I also think it’s a big miss that SDS didn’t add Captain status to McGwire. All that complaining I just did about Sosa? Imagine if Race of ’98 McGwire was also a Captain that boosted all Race of ’98 Series cards? SDS could have had a huge impact on the overall meta with such a thing and Captains have been incredibly lacking this year. I feel like it’s a big missed opportunity that each program boss hasn’t been a Captain of the program cards. We’re forced to use these cards to grind stats and PXP every single time. Imagine if the payoff was not just a juicy card at the end, but an entire team of juiced cards thanks to the Captain effects. I think it sounds dope but that’s just me.
All that aside – this program is really cool and one of my favorites of all-time simply due to nostalgia. I was a wee lad, only 7 years old when Big Mac and Slammin’ Sammy were hunting down Roger Maris’ grasp on immortality. I have incredibly fond memories of that summer and both of these extraordinary players. The fact that they’ve been immortalized and recognized within this program is a huge win and I’m appreciative that we got this content drop.
What are your thoughts on the program? Are you still using Sammy Sosa despite the nerfed attributes? Would you like to see all program “bosses” featured as Captains that boost the entire program card set? Let us know in the comments below!
Cory is a freelance writer that currently features for Operation Sports and ShowZone and has dabbled in streaming from time to time. Cory has been a diehard Atlanta Braves fan since birth and has tortured neighbors and family alike with avid guitar playing for the last twenty years.
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