Sammy Sosa did himself very few favors if he wants to return to the Cubs.
Tom Ricketts has made things pretty clear. Until Sammy Sosa comes clean and apologizes for his involvement in the steroid scandal that rocked the baseball world, he won’t be welcomed back to Wrigley Field by the Chicago Cubs.
With ESPN’s ‘Long Gone Summer’ airing over the weekend, it brought that debate back to life, with Cubs fans overwhelmingly pushing for Sosa’s return to the franchise on social media. On Monday morning, the 1998 National League MVP took to the airwaves, speaking with 670 WSCR AM in Chicago.
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Asked about his ties to PEDs, Sosa maintained he “never tested positive” during his playing days. That’s been the line he’s toed for years now – not outright denying that he used, but sticking to the test results defense instead. Regardless, he hopes he can come back to the North Side at some point soon.
“They made me go hard every day – I owe it to the fans, everything I have,” Sosa said. “If I have a chance to come back and address them, there’s going to be a lot of tears. Because I haven’t been back in Chicago in such a lot time. I really, really want say so much, things to the fans and my appreciation, the support they had for me.”
Sosa and McGwire saved a sport that was still reeling from the effects of the 1994 strike in the summer of 1998. The two sluggers went head-to-head, finishing with 66 and 70 home runs, respectively. The Cubs punched a postseason ticket – but their run was brief come October.
Of course, there’s more to Sosa’s relationship with the organization than just the PED speculation that’s surrounded him for well over a decade. He left the final game of the 2004 season early – although he’s since said that he had permission to do so. Regardless, it left a bad taste in a lot of fans’ mouths – and for many, it hasn’t improved with time.
“What can I say?” Sosa said. “They welcomed back Mark McGwire in St. Louis. They welcomed back Barry Bonds in San Francisco. So I don’t know what I have to go through to come to Chicago. Whatever the situation is, let’s see what happens. Time will heal everything.”
It’s pretty wild that the franchise’s all-time home run leader hasn’t set foot in the Friendly Confines since his playing days wrapped up. With 545 homers and as the only player in MLB history with three seasons of 60 or more home runs, he left an indelible mark on the sport.
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But if Ricketts maintains his conditions for Sosa to return and the former beloved outfielder sticks to the same line we’ve heard for years, it’s hard to imagine the two sides burying the hatchet.