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Sammy Sosa will retire. Any chance he belongs in the Hall of Fame?
Our baseball guy Chris De Luca’s column in today’s Sun-Times talks about Sammy Sosa’s formal retirement from baseball. In it, De Luca chastises Sosa for insisting he’s clean in one breath and skirting the specifics in the next.
In an interview with ESPNDeportes, Sosa says he will patiently wait for his induction into the Hall of Fame. With 609 career home runs, he definitely has the numbers.
But, numbers in the Steroids Era are but a small part of the entire picture.
Sosa, 40, also has the unmistakable steroid stench covering him thanks
to a firmly pointed finger from Jose Canseco, who has been spot-on with
all of his other allegations of stars who needed performance-enhancing
drugs to get by. We all watched Sosa, who spoke fluent English in the
Cubs’ clubhouse, suddenly forget how to speak the language during a
Canseco-inspired appearance on Capitol Hill in 2005.
Sosa said that he will not address his alleged steroid use, or steroids in general, going forward.
”I always played with love and responsibility, and I assure you that I
will not answer nor listen to rumors,” Sosa said. ”If anything ugly
comes up in the future, we will confront it immediately, but with all
our strength because I will not allow anybody to tarnish what I did on
De Luca, serving as a conduit of common sense, suggests that if the former slugger isn’t willing to candidly speak about the topic in detail, he’d be best served to just keep his mouth shut.
While Sosa is calmly waiting for his induction to the Hall of Fame –
he can expect some anxious moments — he better either keep his mouth
shut on the subject of steroids or be willing to take the allegations
against him head-on.
So here we are in 2009, looking back at a career that is split into two specific Sosas.
There was the home run king who with Mark McGwire authored the unforgettable storyline of 1998 and hit over 60 round-trippers in a season three times. The charismatic right fielder who sprinted to his position and was worshiped by the Wrigley Field bleachers.
But there was also the current incarnation of Sosa. The one sullied by a cloud of suspicion as thick as the Texas haze in which he finished his career. A striking example of how an entire era of baseball blurred — if not obscured — the record books as we know them.
Which one of these Sosas will you remember? Is it possible to look past the events in recent years and see him as a captivating, dynamic player?
I don’t know too many people who could do that.
More importantly, does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Is there any chance he’ll escape the cold shoulder voters have turned to his counterpart McGwire? Should he?
Personally, I think Sosa’s story is the most tangible example of how all the halcyon moments of baseball’s comeback from the 1994 were contrived and can’t be fully appreciated. He was so exciting. And the realization that it all may have been fake hurts. Moreover, the doubt that surrounds that time besmirches it past the point of enjoyment.
We’ll have to wait and see what happens when Sosa comes up for induction. If I were him I wouldn’t hold my breath for Cooperstown.