Sammy Sosa probably didn’t do much to repair his fractured association with the Ricketts family though last night’s milquetoast documentary, Long Gone Summer. Though the ESPN 30 for 30 special let us relive that wonderful summer and the home run chase he shared with Mark McGwire, the slugger refused to admit that he specifically did anything to tarnish the game or the organization.
“The ownership, they have to understand that I’m a humble man, I’m not a man to have ego, when I was playing I was a little bit because I was focused on what I was trying to do,” Slammin’ Sammy said. “But right now I’m gonna be 50 years old. I’m a granddaddy, I’m a grandparent, so things change. So if I made a mistake, I don’t have to say that, but if I made a mistake, I didn’t want to offend any body, I don’t have a problem with that, I’m sorry because you know, I was in my zone.”
A film dedicated specifically to Sosa would probably be more fascinating than last night’s special. I found the part about his upbringing amidst impoverished conditions in the Dominican Republic one of the film’s finer moments. Short of Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins, Billy Williams, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, and Kerry Wood, few players have been as beloved to Cubs fans in the history of the franchise.
No player from that era has had to specifically answer questions about PED use. Heck, Barry Bonds, who could be the poster boy for HGH, has been welcomed back by the Giants. Even Álex Rodríguez, a repeat offender, is protected by at least a thin layer of immunity from the sport and the teams he played for.
The New York Times reported in 2009 Sosa was one of 104 MLB players in 2003 to test positive for PEDs, the results of which were supposed to have been sealed. Nobody has seen the results except for the league, federal agents who seized the documents, and the author of the article, Michael S. Schmidt. In fact, the veracity of that report and the source of its information have been questioned more than once. Additionally, no players or coaches from that era of Cubs baseball have come forth with a statement offering any proof that Sosa was juicing.
Sosa himself has refused to admit guilt despite the leak. When asked in March 2005 under oath before a government committee investigating the illegal use of steroids in the game, the right fielder added “To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs. I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything.”
He was never pursued on charges he may have perjured himself.
The Cubs/Sosa thing really needs to end. I don't care if Sammy ever comes back, but there's a whole generation of fans that do. And for those that do, they equate Sammy the player with their early memories of falling in love with the game. Those fans deserve this chapter to end.
— Brad Robinson (@bradrobinson8) June 15, 2020
I don’t know exactly what Tom Ricketts needs to hear from Sosa to end the slugger’s exile, but if he is looking for an admission that the energetic right fielder took illegal substances, it’s not coming. The Cubs’ chairman has made it clear that he wants his pound of flesh and that’s probably not going to change after last night’s special.
“Why do they worry about me when pretty much everybody in that era did [steroids]?” Sosa said in the documentary.
Though the team’s all-time home run leader believes he will make a triumphant return to the franchise and fanbase that lovingly adored him for the better part of 13 seasons, it would seem only a change in ownership will provide such an occasion.
“What I don’t like is taking the blame for [everybody] else. That was a year that we had to do what we had to do. I feel [grateful] to the Chicago Cubs, they gave me the opportunity to be the player that I was.”
Cubs News & Notes
- Based on social media responses, the majority of Cubs fans did not enjoy last night’s presentation by ESPN.
- The Cubs signed seven undrafted free agents yesterday.
- One signee, Jacob Wetzel, has a peculiar and colorful Twitter handle.
- Wetzel talked about the recruiting tactics employed by the Cubs, which included a personal courtship by Theo Epstein.
- Lefty Burl Carraway, selected by the Cubs in the second round of this year’s draft, hopes to be fast-tracked to the major leagues. Carraway earned his bachelor’s degree in just three years of college, no small feat for a student-athlete.
- The White Sox may regret letting Ed Howard slip to the Cubs.
- Fifth round pick Koen Moreno intends to bypass college and sign with the team.
- Sportswriter Rick Reilly once called Sosa’s bluff regarding alleged use of PEDs and said the slugger folded.
- The Cubs should welcome Sosa back to Wrigley Field with open arms.
- Most Cubs fans are hoping the Ricketts family will bring Slammin’ Sammy back.
- Bob Costas waving his pontificating finger last night was torturous. You’d think the guy coined the term “woke.”
Ah, the inevitable Bob Costas editorial.
— Matt Clapp (@TheBlogfines) June 15, 2020
Apropos of Nothing
These were my personal top five jams of 1998, heavily influenced by my girlfriend at the time, who always had control of my stereo wherever we drove. In reality, I was mostly into John Cougar Mellencamp, Tom Petty, and Matchbox 20 at the time, with a little Bruce Springsteen tossed in for good measure.
- Tubthumping by Chumbawamba
- One Week by Barenaked Ladies
- Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve
- Everybody (Backstreet’s Back) by The Backstreet Boys
- Truly Madly Deeply by Savage Garden
Odds & Sods
ESPN continues to ignore the White Sox, which may have been the best thing about Long Gone Summer.
Seriously, this is starting to feel personal.https://t.co/042VofPpYI
— White Sox Talk (@NBCSWhiteSox) June 15, 2020
MLB News & Notes
With owners continually sticking to the same script when it comes to player salaries, negotiations have been utterly ridiculous.
Rob Manfred will never put the game ahead of its owners, and the league statement regarding current negotiations proves that.
The league announced a $2 billion partnership with Turner Sports over the weekend.
The players are refusing to counter the league’s latest proposal, and have demanded that Manfred provide information on restarting the season today.
There was a great deal of intrigue during the 1998 season, but all of it, including the World Series, was overshadowed by Sosa-McGwire.
A nice gesture by the organization but I hope they remember that millions of Cubs fans worldwide joined into this crazy family of ours just because of #21.
'98 Sammy. pic.twitter.com/wMpUVOBEx6
— Chicago Cubs (@Cubs) June 14, 2020
Sliding Into Home
It’s important to remember that the position of commissioner in baseball has always been built on the premise that the person in charge be a stooge for ownership. From Kenesaw Mountain Landis to Manfred, any commissioner who has exclusively sided with baseball’s land owners has enjoyed longevity in the position. The lone exceptions were Bart Giamatti, who died 154 days after accepting the gig, and Fay Vincent, who was forced from the position after three seasons in 1992 for being too accommodating to players.
They Said It
- “I think that time is going to come. I’m looking forward. I expect in the near future, they bring me back to Chicago. I’ll be fine. But I believe time will heal everything. My case is not a hard case to look at. I believe in the near future, somebody, a new owner or somebody is going to bring me back. I believe so.” – Sammy Sosa
Monday Walk Up Song
Stay (Wasting Time) by Dave Matthews Band – I watched the entire documentary last night, an in retrospect, I could have made much better use of the two hours. As far as today’s song, I went to my first DMB concert in 1998. I was promised that as a Grateful Dead fan I would see and hear many similarities. That was a lie, but I had a good time anyway.