When I was in third grade, I put on my Sammy Sosa T-Shirt jersey; fitted my Chicago Cubs baseball hat on the top of my head; and pulled my baseball pants to my waist on the day of Halloween. There was no hiding who I was for Halloween. I was Sammy Sosa. There was a certain type of enthusiasm that would take control of my emotions every time I saw Sammy Sosa on the field for the Chicago Cubs. My imitation of Sosa did not stop on Halloween. Throughout my early years in little league, I emulated the way Sosa would stand in the batter’s box and took the same powerful swings that Cubs’ fans witness Sosa take at Wrigley Field. At the time, I took pride in saying that Sammy Sosa was my role model if not favorite baseball player.
Now, whenever I think about my Sosa-loving days as a youth, the same feeling of disgust resides over me. Similar to how I feel about the fact that I took pleasure in listening to the Backstreet Boys and N’Sync in my younger days as well. My feelings towards a particular player has never seen the 180 degree turn that my feelings for Sosa took. I have remained a supporter of the likes of Michael Vick and Kobe Bryant, but my support for Sosa has been depleted.
No longer do I look at my youth-sized Sosa T-shirt jersey and take a trip down memory lane of the days when I was young, rather, the jersey is buried in my closet along with the regret that is associated with it every time I look at it. My turn against Sosa began in his final year as a member of the Chicago Cubs. As the 2004 season was drawing towards a conclusion, the signs were on the wall that Sosa was likely in his last season as a member of the Cubs’ organization. Rather than embrace the fact that he was beloved by the Cubs’ fan base, Sosa essentially turned his back on the Cubs and their fans as he prematurely left Cubs’ 2004 season finale-game at Wrigley Field.
It was at that moment, that I realized Sosa was anything but a role model. Sosa didn’t care about the Cubs; Sosa didn’t care about the fans; Sosa didn’t care about the fact that somewhere in the state of Illinois there was a third grader like myself that cherished every step he took; the only thing that Sosa cared about was and still is Sammy Sosa. After Sosa was traded to the Baltimore Orioles, I no longer wanted anything to do with my former role model. Thereafter, I would immediately correct anyone that mentioned my previous infatuation with Sosa. In a sense, to steal a phrase from the musician Goyte, Sosa became “somebody that I used to know”.
It was not until recently that Sosa became relevant to me once again. That is because Sosa was on the hall of fame ballot that featured not one player be elected to the hall of fame. The reason for not one player being elected into the hall of fame this year is because a majority of those players have been linked to performance enhancing drugs. But, I can assure you that my feelings towards Sosa are in no way linked to whether or not I think he used performance enhancing drugs. Nonetheless, many reporters have taken the fact that Sosa was on the hall of fame ballot as ignition to ask the question of whether or not Sosa will ever be welcomed back to the Cubs’ organization.
During this weekend’s Cubs convention, Tom Ricketts was asked that same question.
“With Sammy, it’s awkward,” chairman Tom Ricketts said Saturday at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers. “I think over time there will be a good solution for all this stuff. But obviously we saw what happened with the Hall of Fame voting this year. I don’t know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era who were suspected of doing whatever.” Comcast Sportsnet Chicago
To anybody that thinks a player should be blacklisted from baseball because of their ties to performance enhancing drugs, I call you a hypocrite. There is no question that use of performance enhancing drugs in baseball is wrong. But that did not stop anybody from cheering for the likes of Sosa, Barry Bonds, and Roger Clemens while they were playing. The hall of fame is meant as a memorial to generations of baseball, the PED era was a generation of baseball that needs to be remembered. As negative as it may be, it still was a generation and historic.
But the reason why the Cubs should not welcome Sosa back is because they would be doing a disservice to the entire organization. Sosa was the one who kissed the relationship with the Cubs goodbye and took no issue with turning his back on the fans. Regardless of what Sosa does and regardless of whether or not the Cubs decide to welcome Sosa back; this Cubs’ fan will always have his back turned towards his one-time favorite player.