[Pictured: Sosa, while still a major fan of Morris Day.]
Forgotten But Not Gone: Sammy Sosa announced his retirement from baseball Wednesday. Apparently, Jason Whitlock’s agency for tainted HR kings isn’t placing too many clients. I guess Dick Cheney announcing he’s stepping down as vice-President tomorrow might be a little more absurd, but baseball won’t have Sammy Sosa to kick around anymore “although, technically, baseball hasn’t kicked him around since 2007. Anyway, it’s the classy move, as it always looks better to retire before they retire your number.
Naturally, as the legit single season HR king, Sosa now has his sites on the Hall of Fame. Given that Sosa a) has never been confirmed as a PED user or even named on the Mitchell Report, and b) he was a Cub, I’m all for this. The case for Sammy’s induction is of course based on his 609 home runs and his single-season HR records. Here’s a couple things we should also consider. In never being confirmed in a steroid scandal, Sosa never forced Hall of Famer Peter Gammons into the embarrassing, dignity-denying, reputation tarnishing role that A-Rod put Gammons’ in after the Selena Roberts story broke. So, you know he’s got PG’s vote in four years.
I’ll say this much, whatever the steroid reality of Sammy Sosa, 545 HRs as a Cub is a lot, and the Cubs got more for their money out of him than they ever got out of Mitchell Report all-stars Wood and Prior. The Cubs owe Sosa no matter what, if only for single-handedly bringing some dignity back to Wrigley, such as it is. The Trib‘s Paul Sullivan interviews Derreck Lee on Sosa’s Hall legitimacy here:
“I think he carried this franchise a long time,” Lee said. “I think it would be fitting. Obviously he has had the [steroid] allegations against him, but nothing has been proven. I think you have to do something for him. “The guy was the franchise for a long time, put up Hall of Fame numbers, and put fans in the seats.”
The Cubs have no current plans to honor Sosa. He left on a bad note after the 2004 season and was traded to Baltimore for Mike Fontenot and Jerry Hairston in 2005. Former Cubs President John McDonough ended the cold war between Sosa and the Cubs during spring training of ’07, but Sosa went back to being an invisible man upon McDonough’s exit, and he has had no recent contact with anyone in the organization. He didn’t play last season.
Lee believes Sosa will be brought back to Wrigley to be honored, though he’s not sure if it will occur while he’s still around.
Should Sosa be elected to the Hall of Fame in spite of the suspicions?
“His numbers [say so],” Lee said. “Nothing has been proven. I don’t think you can keep him out just on the assumption. I guess you have the corked bat stuff [from 2003], but that’s all you have that’s proven against him. I think if you look at the numbers, he’s easily a Hall of Famer.”