Former Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa’s low percentage in this week’s Hall Of Fame voting is just the latest blip during Sosa’s harrowing fall from adoration.
Sammy Sosa stood at the center of controversy for a long time in Chicago. His legacy will forever be in question due to his reported use of PEDs and his continuing refusal to admit to any wrongdoing. While the argument around known PED users continues to be a hot button topic, the former Chicago Cubs star seems to be left out of the conversation altogether.
As the likes of Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Mark McGwire take their turns returning to their respective stadiums, where they are welcomed back with open arms, Sosa remains exiled. Every once in a while Sosa’s name will surface. Whether it be an interview, a social media post or a sighting in his native Dominican Republic, fans who once chanted his name now make a mockery out of his changed skin-tone or his unique outfits.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts recently doubled-down on his previous statements, saying that until Sosa comes clean on his PED usage, he will not be welcomed back to Wrigley Field.
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One thing that can never be taken from Sosa? His numbers. Absolutely no one can argue that Sosa was one of the most dominant hitters and feared sluggers of all-time.
During Sosa’s 18-year big league career, he ranks ninth all-time with 609 home runs. Sosa coupled his astonishing home run total with a career .273/.344/.534 slash line, 1,667 RBI and an overall WAR of 58.8. Hall of Fame numbers, no doubt.
But if BBWAA voters want to be stingy on steroid users, I understand. What I don’t understand is the lack of consistency pertaining to the matter.
The case for Sosa
Regardless of what Sosa’s legacy ends up being, it will not include an induction into the Hall of Fame barring a drastic change in voting.
In this week’s historic Hall of Fame vote, Sosa received 36 votes out of 425 (8.5 percent). He obtained three more votes than he had in 2018. While the former National League MVP remains light years from the 75 percent of votes needed for induction, other admitted PED users are creeping closer to the mark.
Clemens received 253 votes (59.5 percent) and Bonds received 251 (59.1 percent). Bonds’ total votes rose 13 from 2018, while Clemens garnered 11 more tallies in his category. They still have a long way to go to reach Cooperstown, but clearly, voters are becoming more tolerant to PED users as time goes on – at least some users.
Bonds, of course, holds the record for most home runs in Major League history with 762. He also slashed .298/.444/.607. No question Bonds’ number blow away any other hitter in the history of the sport, including Sosa. However, both players posted numbers that would guarantee them a spot in Cooperstown if it weren’t for their use of steroids. So why is Sosa being punished more than guys who have openly admitted using performance-enhancing substances?
What kind of message does it send that we’re willing to consider some users while keeping others far away from any sort of acknowledgement? Is it fair that only the upper echelon of steroid users get to bask in their glory, while others remain exiled from the game they once dominated? Fair or not, Sosa has to accept the fact that he will not be remembered in the same light as other players from his era.
Sammy Sosa remains the only player ever to hit 60 or more home runs in three separate seasons, including that electric 1998 season, where Sosa and McGwire lit up the baseball world. Maybe, someday we can allow ourselves to remember the good times Sosa gave us – instead of the public relations fiasco the relationship has been since his departure from the game.
Perhaps one day he’ll be welcomed back stateside for one last ovation at Wrigley Field. I’ll be waiting for that day, and somewhere Sammy Sosa is waiting too.