Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reynolds and Sosa; not-so-proud 1990s memories seek redemption

Mel Reynolds and Sammy Sosa. They’re a pair of gentlemen, so to speak, who came from impoverished circumstances to rise to high levels in life during the 1990s – only to crash and burn from the public scene.
REYNOLDS: Wants a comeback?

But on Wednesday, both men showed signs indicating that they may be delusional enough to believe they can experience a comeback.

REYNOLDS IS THE one-time member of Congress from the Far South Side and surrounding suburbs (yes, the infamous Illinois Second Congressional District) who said he is a candidate for the special election to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. – who, of course, is the guy who replaced Reynolds in a special election back in 1995.

It seems that Mel Reynolds has dreams of snatching back what he regards as rightfully his and probably has thought for the past 17 years was stolen from him by J.J., Junior!

Those of us with any kind of political memory, of course, know why Reynolds left the political scene. He’s the guy who gave meaning to the phrases “peach panties” and “Did I win the Lotto?”

Quit your snickering. Wipe that smirk off your face! And get your mind out of the gutter that Reynolds dragged us all into when he became one of the few political people whose criminal offense was prosecuted by the Cook County state’s attorney’s office – rather than the U.S. Attorney (although they eventually got their piece of Mel as well).

FOR IT SEEMED that Mel Reynolds cheated on his wife, Marisol (who herself came from impoverished circumstances and wound up returning there once Reynolds went to prison) with a girl who, at the time their affair began, was underage.

She actually did a couple of weeks in the county jail because she initially didn’t want to testify against Reynolds. But she eventually broke, and Reynolds became the congressman with a sex offense (although it seems kind of hypocritical since so many other people in Congress have been known to mess around with girls younger than themselves).

So Mel went to prison, eventually got transferred to a federal correctional center when prosecutors at that level got him convicted on more conventional criminal charges for a political person, and he has maintained a very low profile since being released (on a pardon, from then-President Bill Clinton).
SOSA: Wants glory!

Quite a demise for a man who rose from poverty to being a Rhoads Scholar. Which is why he probably dreams of re-election. Perhaps he thinks he can erase his taint by regaining office.

ALTHOUGH WHEN IT comes to tainted public people, Reynolds probably has to take a back seat to Sammy Sosa (and to Frank Thomas, who will make his first Hall of Fame ballot appearance next year). All because of the way many people in our society place such a significance on professional athletics.

Because in the years after Reynolds, Sammy was that real-life version of actor Garrett Morris’ Chico Escuela character.

He clowned it up for the Chicago Cubs while hitting all those home runs (he’s the only professional baseball player with three seasons of 60-or-more home runs) that made him a superstar.

Of course, now many believe he was among the primary users of various steroids meant to artificially bulk himself up.

WEDNESDAY WAS THE day that the ballots for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., were issued that contained Sosa’s name for the first time. People will have to decide if Sosa’s numerical figures for home runs and other baseball stats are legitimate enough to warrant inclusion.

Sosa himself has said he thinks he’s legit. Although many baseball fans now sound like Chicago White Sox fans did back in 1998 – claiming that Sammy was a clown and unworthy of the attention he was getting.

We’ll get to see for ourselves in coming weeks as sportswriters cast their ballots for the Hall of Fame. Will Sosa get his redemption? Somehow, I suspect he’ll get lost in the overflow of other ballplayers whom do not have any taint of suspicion against them.

Just as Reynolds may wind up getting lost in the mess of candidates who seem determined to treat a seat in Congress as a once-in-a-lifetime perk that is theirs for the snatching.


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