The Chicago Cubs have been an organization that have always welcomed back former players in various forms. Now, with Theo Epstein’s Boston Red Sox ties,you’re seeing that expand to them as well. The rehiring of Manny Ramirez (who has not officially retired by the way) and Kevin Youkilis seemed to have drawn out a statement from Epstein that many didn’t expect. Could the Cubs welcome back Sammy Sosa?
"“Assuming things get worked out, certainly we’d be open to having him around in some capacity and working with our young guys,” Epstein said. “I don’t know him personally, but I’m sure he has some things to offer.” h/t Mark Gonzales, Chicago Tribune"
Our own Tobey Johnson recently did a piece on Steve Bartman, on how it’s time to forgive. He may have a better chance than the Cubs leader in home runs judging by what I read. Some still consider the late Ernie Banks the leader in home runs. Both of these individuals can create a passionate debate amongst Cubs’ fans. So does Theo and Co. have a plan?
It’s hard to know exactly what the motive may be, if there is one. Sosa’s end with the Cubs is well-known, leaving Wrigley Field 15 minutes after the first pitch of the season’s final game in 2004. Which led to his boombox being smashed (More Cubs lore).
He’s never been invited to the Cubs Convention. He wasn’t a part of the 100th Anniversary of Wrigley Field. He didn’t even attend the funeral of Ernie Banks, who he was close with in his time with the Cubs. So why the sudden talk of Sosa coming back?
Epstein clearly believes an individual can redeem themselves. “Sammy was Sammy” in the same way “Manny was just being Manny”. And while the corked bat was real, the PED use was reported, but he was never suspended. His name was included on the report of the MLB’s initial tests in 2003. But that didn’t lead to any suspensions from the game.
Ramirez tested positive in 2009 while with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The second time was with the Tampa Bay Rays, a team which current Cubs skipper Joe Maddon was the manager of. Ramirez chose to retire instead of facing the 100 game suspension. Maddon was very positive about the short time he was around Ramirez, and is excited to have him back. So if Ramirez can do it, why can’t Sosa?
"“I don’t want to take a moral high ground here and say everyone has to acknowledge all their mistakes and all the things they’ve done bad in their life to have a role, Epstein said. “It’s a personal thing."
For Sosa, it’s not as simple as “I’m sorry” and he gets a job. Epstein is not heading that reconciliation process. He says it’s being handled in “other circles”. Translated? People that Sosa directly affected with his actions.
I’m not opposed to the idea. That era of the game as a whole was tainted. Sosa represented our team, so as far as the PED allegations, he hurt us as fans. But nearly every team had a player in the mix of the ridiculous mess that it became. No team was impervious to it. For that, I can forgive Sosa.
But walking out on his team, that’s the type of thing that will take more to be forgiven. And it’s not as much about the fans as it is the organization and his former teammates.
Time can heal, but in this case it’s not just about time, but sincerity from Sosa.