Sammy Sosa: Hall of Famer or a disgrace to the game?

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Photo credit: Peoples.com
Photo credit: Peoples.com

Sammy Sosa made the Hall of Fame ballot this year, but I’m conflicted about whether or not he should even be considered for induction, much less admitted to it.

Flashback to twenty years ago, guys were using performance-enhancing drugs, and Baseball Commissioner, Bud Selig, seemed to be willing to turn a blind eye to it for the sake of drawing attention to the game. Selig’s first year as commissioner was 1998, and he was determined to turn baseball back into America’s pastime.

With a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding steroid use in 1998, the race was on between Sammy Sosa and Cardinals first base slugger, Mark McGwire. Not since the 1961 home run race between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris had there been any notable home run showdowns, and Sosa and McGwire were determined to make history.

McGwire won the race that year with 70 home runs, topping Sosa’s 66, but the true fame, or perhaps infamy is a better word, would come when a washed-up Jose Canseco decided that he needed to sell books. After being named as one of the eighty-nine players in the congressional document alleging widespread steroid use in MLB, Canseco, rather proud of his own admitted steroid use, was all too quick to start name-dropping.

The 1990s were truly a time when ignorance was bliss. Most suspected steroid use was going on, but until the Mitchell Report, we could always hide behind the cloak of naivety. Not any more though- thanks a lot, Canseco.

Some admitted it, others didn’t, and Sosa was among those who stayed quiet. While his silence may have saved him from a “guilty verdict,” from Congress, his lack of cooperation not only has him branded by the public as a steroid-cheat but also has him barred from Wrigley Field.

So herein lies the conflict: Does Sammy Sosa get forever overlooked by the Hall of Fame because he cheated, or do baseball and the HOF owe it to guys like Sosa for saving a drowning sport?

I was crushed when I saw baseball’s heroes breaking down on the witness stand during the Congressional hearings, in part due to what appeared as legitimate grief, and partly because the 1998 season had officially become “rigged.”

Look, I drove a truck over the road for a lot of years, and to say I never cheated my log books would be the furthest thing from the truth. I guess in a way, doing so “enhanced my performance,” but in my case, it was a lot of coffee and a creative pen that helped to accomplish my mission, not anabolic steroids.

Guys like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will eventually be admitted to the Hall of Fame, despite their names also appearing in the Mitchell Report, but still, something sits wrong with me about Sosa. Maybe it all has to do with his strained relationship with the Cubs, or perhaps it’s because I feel like he tarnished one of the best seasons ever- honestly, I just don’t know.

I watch Cubs’ fans clobber guys like Ryan Braun for his use of performance enhancing drugs, yet we might turn a blind-eye to Sosa, Bonds, Clemens and the others; it just doesn’t make sense.

Even if you buy into the theory of Sosa’s innocence in the PED scandal, there was still that incident with the corked bat…

I think I’ll just stay neutral on this one. I won’t applaud if he gets in, I won’t applaud if he stays out. I’ll leave the columns and commentary to Dan, Scott, and Arthur, and I hope they’ll write the right things, as I don’t know what’s right with regard to Sammy Sosa anymore.



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