Is Sammy Sosa Hall of Fame worthy?

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Sammy Sosa: Then and now

By Jake McCormick

Sammy Sosa and Brett Favre have more in common than you think. Both road drugs through their highest peaks of success, and enjoyed unanimous admiration by their respective leagues and fans while building themselves into living legends. But in the words of Harvey Dent, they lived long enough to see themselves become the villain.

Everyone knows of the neverending Days of Favre’s Lives episodes carried on by ESPN. Sosa’s career went from hoppin’ happy to corked frustration almost overnight.

Injuries, steroid allegations and declining production turned an icon into someone who had convinced himself that there actually is an “i” in team (another Favre trait, incidentally). After two years denying that no MLB team had a spot for a rapidly aging player that only hit home runs or struck out (currently see: David Ortiz), Sosa will officially retire and “calmly wait for (his) induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.” Can anyone really be that confident when they won’t answer questions about their success?

Sosa and McGwire in 1998In 1998, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire single-handedly resurrected nation-wide interest in baseball. It would be hard to say that every game of a 162-game season was as consistently popular as 16 NFL games, but that year came closer than ever because let’s face it – everybody digs the long ball. Now Sosa and McGwire are retired with statistics, as Sosa puts it, worthy of the Hall of Fame.

But both players have seen tarnished legacies result from allegations of steroid abuse that will affect voters. In his first year on the ballot, McGwire acquired as many votes needed for his cause as Ralph Nader did in the 2004 election. This begs the question: is Sammy Sosa a Hall of Famer? Based on precedent, I would argue that Sosa is crazier than Darren Daulton if he thinks he deserves a spot in baseball’s Vatican City.

Dave ChappelleMcGwire’s Dave Chappelle-like Fifth Amendment performance in front of Congress has been used as a strong case against his credibility, which ultimately affects his karma within the baseball universe. But what did Sammy Sosa’s testimony look like? We don’t know because he apparently couldn’t understand English enough to answer Congress’ questions. If my memory serves me correctly, he had no problem answering English-speaking reporters in 1998 or at any other point in his career. This should be scrutinized as much as McGwire’s waffling, yet somehow it takes a back seat.

Throughout the past four years, one man has a perfect bJose Cansecoatting average pointing out baseball’s steroid abusers: Jose Canseco. Canseco is the Nostradamus of baseball and has accused McGwire, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, and surprise! Sammy Sosa of steroid use. If he’s been on the money with the most famous users, why would Sosa be any different? If McGwire and Rafael Palmerio have/will been denied entry while posting virtually identical numbers to Sosa’s, the precedent has been set that any negative association with the steroid era means Pete Rose has company down the street in Cooperstown.

During his announcement that he was going to make an announcement (you read that right), Sosa refused to discuss anything pertaining to his possible steroid use and said it would not hurt what he has done on the diamond. Considering Sosa’s legacy at this point is 1998 and juice, and he’s so confident in his chances for the Hall of Fame, it would only make sense to answer any questions about his past if he has nothing to hide and believes his body of work will trump any other concern. But Sosa continues to brush any mention of steroid use off, which only keeps suspicions and rumors swirling.

The next 15 to 20 years-worth of Baseball Hall of Fame inductees and candidates will undoubtedly be entertaining. Sosa still has five years before this topic is brought up seriously again, and a lot can happen in that time period. However, baseball prides itself in being a relevant piece of American society through some of the country’s darkest times in the past 100 years. If Sammy Sosa is allowed entry, then anyone Hall of Fame-worthy mentioned in the same breath as steroids should be given a plaque as well.

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Comments

  1. paulmbanks says

    I wonder if Sosa realizes how intelligence insulting it is to for people to be expected to believe he didn’t use steroids. Barry Bonds is so fargone I don’t think he ever cared if he people thought he was lying or not. In his distorted vision (perhaps Sosa’s as well) of the world, they may not even think anything they did was wrong. That’s why Sammy might think he’s getting in

  2. Melissa W. says

    Sammy’s kidding himself if he believes he won’t be put through the wringer, asked every question in the book and scrutinized under a microscope before his eligibility comes up. His time will come and if he can’t understand English, he’s better learn fast. Not answering is just as bad as admitting guilt.

  3. Who cares, nobody is bigger than the game….especially the Hall of Fame. Sam entertained and was good for the game. It’s just a game.

  4. paulmbanks says

    Like Pete said “the HOF- Official Steroids wing” it’s coming

  5. David K. says

    Hey, at least Sosa didn’t use Roids AND cork his bat… oh wait…

  6. Peter Christian says

    One thing that the HOF voters never seem to realize is that the guys that are supposedly blackballed NEVER CHEATED!!! Steroids and other PED’s were not banned substances until earlier this decade! The NFL has admitted steroid users in its HOF and no one seems to bat an eye because the league and voters know, there is no denying the past. The Hall of Fame is a museum of the sports history and if the voters honestly think they can decide what gets remembered about the last 10-20 years of the sport they are dumber than the average NBA GM. We have reached a time in which the voters are so far removed from the pulse of the game that they have NO EFFING CLUE about what is “Good for the Game” (which is what is constantly preached). As fans of the game we have a responsibility to take stock of the game’s own judgement lapses and put in the HOF the guys that carried the sport through the last decade and a half, whether we agree with how they carried it or not.

  7. Peter Christian says

    Another good point David… Roids during the 90’s = not breaking the rules; Corked bat for the last century = completely illegal. Yet we crucify the guy for the act that didn’t break the rules? All because we need to protect the “sanctity of the game” and some b.s. about the stats mean more in baseball? Ugh, baseball “purists” are some of the most idiotic sports fans ever. What about the fact that baseballs used to be made out of mush, what about the fact that a ground rule double used to be a home run, what about the fact that many of the best baseball players this country has ever seen weren’t allowed to play in the MLB because the owners were all racist assholes (especially Satchel Paige), what about the fact that baseball players were bound to become bigger and stronger men because of the importance of nutrition and body maintenance over the last 20 years? All of those things are just as important as steroids when considering how the most recent “Era” compares to others over the last 100 years, yet we are supposed to draw the line at steroids? That is quite possibly the most ignorant argument ever created in sports history, yet millions of baseball fans are just buying in because it makes people feel like they are drawing a moral line and taking a stance. This issue makes me more upset than the fact that the Oklahoma City NBA franchise named their team after a sound.

  8. paulmbanks says

    Wow Peter tell us how you really feel

  9. Peter Christian says

    I kind of went off there… oh, well, at least I got that off my chest.

  10. jmccormick says

    All or nothing, and given the recent decisions and Sosa’s positive test from 2003 (called it!), he’s not coming anywhere close to Cooperstown. I don’t care if they let steroid users in, but make it consistent. That will do more to respect the game than waffling and putting the decision up to each individual’s own agenda.

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