Despite all he has done as a player, Sammy Sosa needs the Cubs more than the team needs him.
Sammy Sosa needs the Cubs more than the Cubs need Sammy Sosa.
If you don’t believe that, you missed Sosa’s ridiculous assertions Tuesday in a blog as he compared himself to Jesus Christ and claimed to put the tiny burgh of Chicago on the map. Unless the words include a plea for forgiveness or the promise of transparency when discussing PED rumors, the Cubs are wise to ignore whatever comes out of Sosa’s mouth. So are you.
Give Chairman Tom Ricketts credit for maintaining a consistent stance regarding Sosa when it would have been easy during the ongoing Cubs coronation to let his integrity lapse. Sosa indeed hit 545 home runs as a Cub, inspired many great moments at Wrigley Field, and authored some of the most exciting baseball chapters of the modern era. But, in retrospect, everything came with an asterisk.
When Sosa went on a rant about the 1998 home-run race with Mark McGwire on chuckblogerstrom.com, notice he says he "never failed a drug test" — but not that he never tried a performance-enhancing drug. That’s a subtle but significant difference. That’s what the Cubs need to hear, not Sosa offering alternative facts or parsing the language to manipulate history to make his present more comfortable.
"First of all, I’m clean,” Sosa told Chuck Wasserstrom, formerly of the Cubs front office. "They don’t have a case on me. I never failed a drug test. Never in my life.”
Thank you, Lance Armstrong.
Yet when asked if he believes he was found guilty without any evidence, Sosa set a new personal record for outrageousness. This will rank in Cubs infamy with his Flintstones vitamins comment.
"It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa started. "Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (crap) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
A better question: Is he serious? Retirement has reduced Sosa’s income, but not his ego.
The game welcomed back Barry Bonds and McGwire from steroid exile after both separately acknowledged their involvement with performance-enhancing drugs. Fox Sports employs Alex Rodriguez, who admitted to PED use during his career. The door back to baseball is open for Sosa, but only if he follows the same path his contemporaries from the steroid era did. The Cubs have made this clear to Sosa, in no uncertain terms, yet he continues to paint himself as the victim.
Any reference to his controversial exit from the 2004 season finale — when he left Wrigley Field before the last game ended — only obscures the real issue. Sosa’s continued absence from the Cubs organization has nothing to do with 2004 no matter how many times he wants to explain it. That’s minor 13 years later, mere noise muffling the bigger Sosa problem.
Conversations with Cubs officials over the years have convinced me the Cubs care more about Sosa coming clean, taking responsibility and acknowledging reality. If Sosa can put his ego aside to do that, maybe then he can get back on the baseball map.