Wednesday, January 6, 2016

EXTRA: Sosa hits lucky 7, lives to endure another year of Hall skepticism

In terms of enshrinement to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., one-time Chicago Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa got his behind beaten yet again.

Some three-quarters of the 440 sportswriters who cast ballots would have had to support Sosa for him to be inducted. Only 7 percent of them actually believed all those home runs he hit (608 – of which nearly 300 came during a six-year span that made Babe Ruth look like a fat man with little girl legs if you listen to Seinfeld's take on George Steinbrenner) were legit enough to warrant their support.

BUT IT IS enough to comply with Hall of Fame rules to keep Sosa on the ballot for yet another year.

So the debate over whether there was anything legitimate about Sammy Sosa and the stretch of popularity the Cubs gained during that era at the turn of the 20th to the 21st centuries will continue for yet another year.

Which I’m sure is quite an ordeal for Sammy himself. As much as his ego loves every bit of public attention he can get, he wants to be loved – not derided by the fans he once thought would think of him as the new “Mr. Cub” to replace the now-late Ernie Banks.

Personally, my own hostility toward Sammy Sosa has declined significantly from the days he hit all those home runs and Cubs fans tried to use him as the image that proved the superiority of their favored franchise.

I FIND THE more that Cubs fans now want to bad-mouth Sammy, I’m inclined to support him. Particularly since it seems that Cubs fans wish they could erase him from the team’s collective memory. Something they should never be permitted to do.

Besides, I wasn’t kidding when I made the Babe Ruth comparison. From 1998-2003, he hit so many home runs (including three seasons of 60 or more, which no one else has ever done) that you literally have to go back to Ruth at his peak in the 1920s in order to find someone better.

No matter what you think of the whole steroid issue and whether Sosa’s sudden loss of a command of the English language was just a cover-up for drug use, those home runs were still hit.

You can’t ignore them. They’re forevermore in the record books.

ALTHOUGH I FIND it interesting to see there will be a slight Chicago presence this summer in Cooperstown when Hall of Fame induction ceremonies take place.

Ken Griffey, Jr., will be remembered primarily as a Seattle Mariners great who also got to play for the Cincinnati Reds team that his father, Ken Sr., had once been a crucial member of.

But toward the end of his career, Griffey donned the number 17 jersey of the Chicago White Sox and got in a few games on the Sout’ Side.

Just like Steve Carlton and Tom Seaver, to name a couple of other Hall of Famers who included the White Sox on their career roster so as to get a few more games in the big leagues.


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