Chicago Cubs: There’s one in every generation, but never another Mr. Cub

(Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for BMW)
(Photo by Timothy Hiatt/Getty Images for BMW) /
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Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs /

Chicago Cubs: No one did it quite like Slammin’ Sammy

Rampant enthusiasm? Check. Transcended the game in both performance and personality? Check.  His patented hop when he knew he’d hit a home run and the two-fingered kiss.  And who can forget his running onto the field in the first game after 9/11 and circling the bases with the American flag after his home run?  When Sammy Sosa played in Chicago there was no player who was more popular.  Until he wasn’t.

On the field, Sosa put up some truly amazing performances. He remains the only player with three or more 60-homer seasons to his name, holds the Cubs’ all-time home run record and won National League MVP honors in 1998 when he belted 66 home runs and drove in a staggering 158 in one of the most memorable summers in the history of the game.

To say it didn’t end well is an understatement.  There was the issue of performance-enhancing drugs.  Don’t forget his leaving the last game in 2004 early and the boom box (RIP).  Sandberg even called him out, or did he, in his HOF speech comment about players who seek out the red light of the dugout camera.  He could have been the guy who might have assumed the Mr. Cub mantle.  It sure started out that way, but in the end, things clearly went in a very different direction.

That mantle could have fallen to Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, Aramis Ramirez or Derek Lee.  All were loved by fans but still, fall pretty well short of earning the mantle of this era’s Mr. Cub.