MORRISSEY: Honoring Sammy Sosa should be furthest thing from Cubs’ minds
BY RICK MORRISSEY Sports Columnist October 12, 2013 12:28AM
June 24, 2003--Sammy Sosa blows kisses in the dugout after his solo HR in the first inning. Sun-Times photo by Tom Cruze
Updated: November 14, 2013 6:33AM
A man robs a bank over and over again. Takes its money and gets away with it every time. Let’s call him the ‘‘Kiss-Blowing, Heart-Tapping Bandit’’ because he enjoys gesturing in front of the security cameras as he steals bags of cash.
Ten years after the robber’s final heist, the bank invites him back, has a parade and raises a banner to honor him permanently. Such is the affinity bank officials have for him that there’s a chance he’ll end up being an ambassador or a greeter there someday.
Sammy Sosa wants the Cubs to invite him back to Wrigley Field for the sole purpose of exalting him. This is the man who, with a little help from his friends in the pharmaceutical industry, hit 609 home runs, which ranks eighth in baseball history.
Never mind that Sosa was on the 2003 list of players who flunked a Major League Baseball survey drug test, according to the New York Times. Forget about his insistence at a 2005 congressional hearing that he never had used performance-enhancing drugs. Pay no attention to his corked-bat incident in 2003 or the accusations that he walked out on his team during the final game of the 2004 season.
This is the kind of person you want to honor with a statue and a retired number at Wrigley? Sure, it is.
‘‘I’m looking forward to one day, when the time is right, I’ll be here,’’ Sosa told WGN-AM’s David Kaplan. ‘‘They know where they can find me. And we can make that relationship [work]. No matter what happens, whoever has a bad rap about me or thinking I’m not the right person, the numbers don’t lie.’’
The numbers don’t lie? His numbers are filthy liars, about as far from the truth of clean living as can be.
Can one person be this deluded? Answer: Yes. Yes, he can. We’ve seen it with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens. We continue to see it with Sosa.
My bank robber analogy has one flaw: The Cubs went to the bank on Sosa’s home-run tear. During his ‘‘Flintstones’’-fueled power assault, he helped bring millions of people to Wrigley, and the franchise got wealthy while looking the other way.
But that doesn’t make Sosa any less a thief, nor does it make him worthy of a welcome-back, all-is-forgiven celebration.
Why the Cubs would want to be reminded of their association with him is beyond my ability to comprehend. They haven’t made any promises to Sosa, which I’d like to think means they don’t want him within 100 towering home-run balls of Wrigley. If so, I don’t blame them. At the Cubs Convention in January, team chairman Tom Ricketts said the situation was ‘‘complicated’’ and ‘‘awkward’’ and ‘‘maybe it’s an issue we pick up this year.’’
Or maybe not.
It’s true the Cardinals hired drug cheat Mark McGwire as their hitting coach in 2009. That’s because then-manager Tony La Russa had/has no shame. And it’s true Cardinals fans gave McGwire a standing ovation, but that was an embarrassment to anyone who considers himself a clear-thinking human being.
It has become commonplace for people to say that Sosa and McGwire ‘‘saved baseball’’ with their home-run race in 1998, but there’s little to back up the contention. Attendance already was rising from the 1994-95 strike before the two started trading dingers in 1998.
McGwire eventually apologized for using steroids, which is more than Sosa has done. But just because you apologize doesn’t mean you should have the honor of being a part of baseball again. The cheaters did lasting damage to the game. The argument that lots of players used steroids at the time isn’t a reason the door should be open to them now. They chose to lead their lives a certain way.
This was Sosa’s first year of eligibility for the Hall of Fame, and he received a paltry 12.5 percent of the vote. Nobody got in, reflecting the disgust with the so-called Steroid Era.
I thought we were done with Sosa. I should have known better. If he starts to get the idea that saying ‘‘I’m sorry’’ will solve everything, he’ll be wrong. But I don’t believe we have to worry about that.
‘‘I’m looking forward to one day, you work in Wrigley Field and see my statue, see my flag,’’ Sosa said. ‘‘I don’t think they’ll find another player to put up the numbers I put up at Wrigley Field. I doubt it.’’
Put a cork in it, Sammy.