Let's talk about Sammy Sosa, the Cubs' most famous No. 21.
Sammy set tons of home-run records while he was with the Cubs. He's the franchise record holder for most homers (545), passing up Ernie Banks' total of 512. He's the only player to hit 60 home runs in a season three times -- and didn't lead the league in any of those seasons, finishing second to Mark McGwire (twice) and Barry Bonds.
He produced what is probably the best offensive season in Cubs history, his 2001 season. That year he hit 64 home runs, drove in 160 (Sammy and Manny Ramirez are the only players to have a 160-RBI season since 1937), hit .328/.437/.737, scored 146 runs (most by any Cub since 1930), walked 116 times (most for any Cub since 1960) and posted 10.3 bWAR.
And yet, he is now a pariah, unwelcome by the team at events like the Cubs Convention or at Wrigley. In part, this is due to suspicions about PED use, and in part, it's because he walked out on the club on the last day of the 2004 season.
Yet, I know many of you are big fans of Sammy and the fun he brought to Wrigley Field in his 13 seasons wearing the blue pinstripes. There's no question there was incredible excitement through the 1998 home-run chase (and wild-card race), and though the Cubs didn't make the playoffs in that 2001 season, they were in first place for much of the year. Sammy hit a game-tying ninth-inning home run in Game 1 of the 2003 NLCS that had Wrigley Field rocking, even though the Cubs eventually lost that game. You still see some fans wearing his jersey at the ballpark.
My feelings about Sammy are mixed. His ego might have been bigger than the numbers he posted. Before his breakout year in 1998, he was often known among some fans as "Selfish Sammy." I cannot deny that I loved the home-run chase and the fun he brought to the ballpark, at the time. Yet I also find myself agreeing with what Mike Bojanowski wrote here in his Top 100 Cubs profile of Sammy:
I'd like to remember `98 that way, a season of joy, a season for the ages, fit for groupies and students alike, our season. But I can't, not anymore. It was stolen from us, under false pretenses, and time has not assuaged the anger.
That was written in 2007. The nine years since then haven't really changed anything. While some suspected PED users have apologized, and even been brought back into the baseball family, Sammy has remained silent.
Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has strongly hinted that Sammy will have to apologize to the team for his actions before he's welcomed back. I can't argue with this position.
So I put it to you: How do you feel about Sammy and the Cubs? Time does have a way of healing wounds, and eventually baseball will, I think, come to terms with the so-called Steroid Era and what it means. But before it does I think there have to be apologies. Some have already happened. It's Sammy's turn.