Twenty years ago, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire entranced the entire baseball world with their home-run chase, McGwire winning the chase 70-66, Sammy winning the N.L. MVP while helping lead the Cubs to a wild-card berth, also won in a thrilling race down to the end of the season.
Talk of steroid use tainted that home-run chase, for me at least. Acknowledging that it happened, and the fun that it brought to Wrigley Field and the baseball world, looking back on it two decades later hasn’t quite erased the blot the so-called “Steroid Era” put on the game.
And then there was the way Sammy Sosa left the Cubs, certainly not the way anyone would have wanted someone who brought happiness to many and whose performance on the field was, at the very least, exciting.
I’m bringing this all up again — and I wrote this long summary on this topic just last January — because David Kaplan of NBC Sports Chicago recently sat down for a long interview with Sammy and posted this article Wednesday.
It does contain some new information, which I present to you here. First, for those of you who have been making fun of certain photos of Sosa that have appeared online in recent years, you really ought to stop doing that:
Sosa has received a lot of attention for the changes to his appearance. His skin is noticeably lighter, but he is still in outstanding physical condition and as he approaches his 50th birthday this November and still looks like he could play. His appearance is nowhere near what people have perceived it to be after seeing a handful of photos online over the past few years.
Next, there’s the topic of whether Sosa should be welcomed back. Many of you think he should, unconditionally. The poll in my January article said about 25 percent of readers polled felt that way. Others feel he should apologize first — 51 percent of the voters in that poll said so. Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts has made it clear that an apology should come first, before Sammy could be welcomed back into the Cubs family. From Kaplan’s article:
“The ownership they have to understand that I’m a humble man, I’m not a man to have ego, when I was playing I was a little bit because I was focused on what I was trying to do,” Sosa said. ”But right now I’m gonna be 50 years old. I’m a granddaddy, I’m a grandparent, so things change. So if I made a mistake, I don’t have to say that but if I made a mistake, I didn’t want to offend any body I don’t have a problem with that, I’m sorry because you know, I was in my zone.”
However, Sammy Sosa wants nothing more than to be welcome in a stadium that he helped to fill for many seasons on a daily basis. He played hard everyday and helped to turn many baseball fans into Chicago Cubs fans. Sammy wants to feel the love he felt when he was thrilling Cubs fans with his play. He wants to hear the cheers of the crowd once again.
”If one day I come back to Chicago, I’d come back for the fans,” Sosa said. “I owe those people something.”
If Sammy really means that last sentence — that he “owes” Cubs fans something — and as in the first quote above, hints that he’d be willing to say he’s sorry if he made mistakes, then why not sit down with Tom Ricketts and say so? He says he’s “humble.” I’m not so sure I believe that, but if that’s true, Sammy: Show it. Be humble. Show some humility. Say you’re sorry for what happened and you’d like to make things right with Cubs ownership, and come back “for the fans,” as you said in that statement. Kaplan writes:
It’s time both sides extended an olive branch and moved past their issues. It’s time for Sammy Sosa to come home.
That’s fine, but I think the first move has to come from Sammy Sosa. Your move, Sammy. It’s not that hard.
This poll is closed
... should be welcomed back by the Cubs unconditionally
... should be welcomed back by the Cubs only after he meets with Tom Ricketts and apologizes, or at least comes to an understanding with him
... should not be welcomed back by the Cubs at all
... something else (leave in comments)