I was tempted to do this piece earlier in the year, but it still didn’t feel right to me. As I considered the subject matter for this latest installment of Through The Rear View, I was still thinking of the upcoming world series and the drama that it took to get a team like the Rockies to the fall classic. How it seemed, that down the stretch, there was a strange sense of destiny for the Rockies to get where they are now. Every hit that they needed, and every out that they had to have somehow seemed to fall the way of the Rockies. I remember that I felt the same way in 2003 when I felt that the Cubs were riding the same sort of mystical wave into the playoffs and beyond. All they way up until those fateful nights in October, versus the Marlins. My look back on those days will always include certain players and certain events. One of those players is Samuel Sosa Peralta. Sammy Sosa. Slammin’ Sammy.
Sammy represents the paradox of my Cubs fandom. My love for the Cubs blinded me for a while with Sammy. It was hard to look past his incredible late life growth spurt, but I did it. It was hard to not cheer for the guy who seemed to always be smiling and enjoying his time at the ball park. The guy that tried his hardest to steal the home run race away from the Goliath, never mind that it was another extension of the Cubs-Cards rivalry. I was admittedly caught up in it.
Little by little though, it grew harder to not look past his antics, corked bats, and everything else. I became aware that I had become one of those fans. One of those fans who conveniently looks past the problems at home to complain about guys like Barry Bonds and other alleged cheaters. These revelations and realizations are part of the reason that I am (kind of) against the potential sale of the Cubs to one Mark Cuban. I just don’t want to become THAT organization to the rest of the world, if Cuban becomes the owner and the Cubs suddenly win a championship. I don’t want anything to taint the organization more than history already has. I honestly don’t know what would be worse. The scenario that I laid out above, or the Cubs becoming the Washington Redskins of baseball. People giggling, while the organization and owner spends boatloads of money and still can’t build a winner. I almost can’t help to think that it would be door number two, if I had to choose. While Dan Snyder’s prowess as a shrewd businessman may not have translated into success with the Redskins, he does at least dress and act the part, while maintaining some dignity and respect. In a way it’s a catch-22.
Yet, I digress…
I’m not going to get into the whole statistical analysis of Sammy’s 17 year career or his rise to the professional ranks. There are half a dozen statistical web pages that will do that for you. I am simply going to wonder aloud about what might be next for Sammy Sosa. I genuinely hope retirement.
Seriously. Because of the love I once shared for Sammy with the majority of the Cubs Nation, I hope the man retires. Despite all that has transpired with his relationship with the CUbs he is still an indelible part of our history.
Think about it. His walk away now, would be a pretty storybook ending to a colorful and not always storybook career. Look at it. Sammy comes back after a mysterious year off to cleanse his…soul. He comes back to the team where it all started for him. Then he battles back from the minor leagues to get another shot at the big leagues. Showing the talent and ability that he always had, a smaller Sammy comes back to post pretty decent numbers
(AVG .252 | HR 21 | RBI 92 | OBP .311 | SLG .468)
Not a statistical bonanza by any means, but definitely a victory for the sake of his legacy. A milestone year in which he became the first player to hit a home run off of every team in the league. A feat he reached in conjunction with becoming only the fifth player in baseball history to hit 600 home runs. His 600thoff of the team he had built his legend with and doing it while batting against the pitcher wearing his former number. There is something strangely poetic, ironic, and almost scripted about all of that. Isn’t there?
So, why not put the whole thing to bed and retire. While I doubt that Sammy will do it, I wish that he would. There were certainly enough times in Sammy’s life that he did what I wished him to do, why not this?
As we drive on, that’s my View Through The Rear View.
Through the Rear View appears every Wednesday. If you have a topic to suggest, send Tony an E-mail.