Goatriders of the Apocalypse

Sammy Sosa belongs in the Hall of Fame

Sammy SosaQuestion: Should a guy who's never been caught doing steroids be banned from the Hall of Fame over suspicions that he may have been doing something that wasn't against the rules of baseball at the time?

We're asking ourselves this today and we'll be asking it again in four or five years as Sammy Sosa enters Hall of Fame eligibility.  But unless something dramatically changes the way the voters think then we can already guess the answer: Sammy is going to have about as much trouble reaching Cooperstown as Mark McGwire, maybe a little less because his overall numbers are better.

As Cub fans, it's a conflictive situation.  Do we remember the guy who hopped when he homered (and blew kisses to his mother), who gave the fans not one but two thrilling chases for 60, who broke his post season homerless streak in about as epic a fashion as possible, who once threw his entire body at a ball he had no chance of catching in a vain attempt of preserving a no-hitter, who came from poverty and became a superstar?

Or do we remember the selfish, gold medallion wearing, Ryne Sandberg disgusting, money-chasing cheater who corked his bat, who alienated his teammates with his boombox and attitude, and who exited Chicago in disgusting fashion at the tail end of the '04 season when he "played sick" and vanished?

Why can't we remember both? 

A funny thing about heroes -- they are rarely pure as the driven snow.  I don't necessarily subscribe to the notion that we are born flawed but I certainly agree that our life makes us that way rather quickly.  Heroes have dark sides.  Villains can be charitable.  And Sammy Sosa was a long-time flawed hero who played the charitable villain brilliantly. 

It's funny, though.  I don't remember him really for his heroics, nor do I remember him for his flame-out.  I remember him for being Sammy Sosa.  He was a guy who desperately wanted to be loved by the fans, who wanted to succeed, who put himself ahead of his team, who occupied a cornerstone position on my favorite team for better than a decade. 

And yes, he belongs in the Hall of Fame, although I suspect that he won't reach those hallowed halls for more than another decade from now.  Still, he belongs there.  After all, it's not the Hall of Saints, nor is it the Hall of Clean Athletes.  Sosa was a massively productive player who was known -- at times -- for his charity who came from nothing, overcame a reckless youth, and went on to be an amazing player before we decided to hate him because he never gained control of his greater demons.  None of that contradicts "Hall of Fame" status, at least not in my opinion.

Therefore, if it's possible for you to put aside the fading sense of betrayal, if you can either ignore the ever-present allegations -- or simply choose not to care about them, be they true or false) -- then I suspect you'll probably leave with the same impression as myself.  Sosa is a Hall of Famer. 

He was for a time The Greatest Cub.  And when we're old men and women and he's long gone we'll still be talking about him. Hopefully part of that conversation will include the memory we share of when he finally got recognized by the Hall of Fame.

must clarify

The way I understand it is that baseball did specifically ban illegal substances, which included steroids, during the timeframe you are discussing.
In my opinion that makes it wrong to say that steroid use did not violate baseball's rules.
No?

Wasn't it banned in 2004, the

Wasn't it banned in 2004, the year Sammy was caught corking his bat and a full 6 years after he started hitting epic homeruns?

to clarify

What I've read that is that the collective bargaining agreement always had clauses that banned the use of illegal substances (cocain for example). Use of steroids falls under that. Adding them specifically along with other PEDs came later as you point out. Maybe it's just semantics, but my position is that steroids have been banned for as long as they have been illegal.
I think it's a shame that media hasn't picked up on this and reported it more clearly.
If evidence proves me wrong I'll be glad to change my position..........

Not at all because as the

Not at all because as the Mitchell Report unveiled, a number of players obtained "legitimate" perscriptions from doctors. Not to mention that in the Dominican, steroids are available over-the-counter. Unless Sammy and the rest were getting their meds from a street-peddler, they weren't technically obtaining them "illegaly" and I'm pretty sure steroids are only illegal if obtained without a
'scrip.

research

This is worth some research; I just can't do it right now.
I still believe that they were banned prior to 2004, but in a roundabout way. I'm not sure that they were/are available over the counter in the DR.

For me, its not about the

For me, its not about the legalities of his supposed steroid use. And its not about the possible steroids, or any other PED's or drugs, used by classic HOF members. For me, if I find out somehow someway that he did do steroids, then I certainly dont want him to be a hall of famer for the Cubs. For basically the same era that Sosa was a Cub, Mark Grace was the epitomy of clean good baseball players. He is the guy, along with Sandberg, who will be the stars we remember from the 90s. When I think about those years, various players come to mind: Shawon Dunston, Steve Trachsel, Gary Gaetti, Wood and Prior, Cory Patterson, and various other Cubs who we thought had a chance to be great (remember Kevin Orie?). Sosa has practically left my mind because I believe he not only was a steroid user, but quite possibly a corker at least on occasion. I dont want him representing the Cubs franchise in the HOF.

Its about respect. And I just dont have that for a guy who tries to have a competitive advantage over everybody else especially while using illegal drugs.

Then you probably do not

Then you probably do not respect the VAST majority of players in baseball today.

I'll ask you the same question I've asked a bunch of people ... when they outright banned steroids they also banned Greenies. Are greenies also not performance enhancers?

Wow

Don't know how I managed to miss this post, but I'm awfully glad to see it.

I agree with you completely, Kurt. Sammy was not perfect, but I'll be damned if every single time I played Home Run Derby on World Series Baseball '98 or in the backyard with my little brother I didn't choose to be Sammy Sosa. I was 12 when he started his run of Playstation years, and while Ryno was always my favorite Cub, Sammy was firmly entrenched at number two. In fact, he might still be. I was livid about his abandoning the team at the end of '04, dejected about his complete lack of performance towards the end of that season and dismayed by his testimony to Congress, but that man gave me one of the best summers of my life. My older brother and I jumped and screamed for ten solid minutes after we beat the Giants to go to the playoffs, and it wouldn't have happened without Sammy. He MADE that team good through his sheer dominance at the plate, and I think people forget how good he actually was back then.

Three years of 60+ homeruns, a couple of 30-30 years and what seemed like five billion RBIs later, he turned his back on the team and we turned our backs on him. But I, for one, have had enough time to cool off to look at his career and say, "Wow."

Also, to everyone saying he corked: CORKING A BAT IS SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN TO KILL POWER. It destroys the integrity of the bat and drastically shortens the distance a ball can be hit. Jesus.

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