McGwire Says He’s Sorry but Doesn’t Make Amends

By Soxman

The 1998 homerun chase between Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire led to baseball’s resurgence.  The thrill of watching a record fall  and the sportsmanship among two of baseball’s “good guys”  re-ignited our passion for the game and that special romantic tingle you get when “make-up” kissing your significant other for the first time after a horrible fight.

So now that one of those “good guys” comes back from baseball exile to admit what everyone pretty much knew, or at least strongly suspected all along, what possible news angle can one take to make this story worth reading?

Is anyone surprised?  Seriously, does the fact that Mark McGwire finally put a decade of hiding the truth aside and admitted to cheating really change anything?

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Sammy Sosa: A Corked, Corrupt, Conundrum of Saviors, Steroids & History

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By:  Soxman

On June 3rd, 2003 Sammy Sosa used a corked bat in a baseball game.  With a Ruthian swing, the bat exploded into 1000 pieces exposing a hollow core.  Sosa smiled and walked away denying any knowledge of wrong doing.  Years later this memory becomes the perfect analogy for not only his career, but the career of almost anyone who used illegal performance enhancing drugs.

As the unofficial steroid correspondent for the Sportsbank, I, like most baseball fans can’t say I’m at all surprised by the revelation from the New York Times yesterday that Sammy Sosa was among the 104 players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003.  Honestly, with the exception of Sosa himself, who appears to suffer from short-term memory loss, was anybody?

My memory is not short-term either.  After the 1994 season was cancelled, baseballs true most valuable player, the fan, filed for divorce from the game.  One of the seven deadly sins, Greed appeared to forever tarnish America’s pastime.  Attendance was down and the game seemed to lose that magical romantic connection that fans, regardless of age or gender, had with it since the first time they could grip a baseball.

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1998, enter Sammy Sosa and McGwire:  The Saviors of the Game.

Engaged in an epic race to break Roger Maris’ season record of 61* (remember this asterisk) homers, the fans’ love affair with the game was reborn.  Fans flocked, cash flowed, and baseball once again had “juice.” Unfortunately, it was much more than “juice” as the term is used in the world of hip hop, which means “power and influence.”  The balls and players were also juiced up- in a totally different way.

We know now that everyone knew it too, players and owners alike, but they turned their heads because everyone was happy. I question, if the fans knew then, what they know now, would the magic truly have returned to the game?  Maybe, but perhaps on a level equal to that of World Wrestling Entertainment, another “sport” rocked by steroid scandals. Like watching Hulk Hogan body slam the Big Show, Sosa and McGwire traded gargantuan homers.  Would we say: “I know its fake, but I love it anyway.”  Like it requires skill to belt a 500 foot blast, it requires strength to slam 600 lbs like a paperweight.


Enough conjecture, let’s look at the facts.
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Major League Baseball, modifying a bat or a ball with foreign substances and using it in play is illegal and subject to ejection and further punishment.  Until 2003, it was ok to modify bodies with foreign substances, but not bats and balls.

Baseball has a moral clause since the early 1900s, where illegal actions taken by a player outside the game can lead to suspensions inside the game. Another key part of the moral clause has not been enforced for years.  If a players knows of illegal activity but fails to report it, that player possesses the same guilt as if those who committed the crime. Buck Weaver batted .324 in the 1919 World Series, tallying 11 hits. He also played errorless ball in the Series, yet was banned for life from the game based on his Black Sox connections.

Weaver was banned for having knowledge of other players’ plans to throw the World Series and failing to tell team officials. However, Charles Comiskey, owner of the Chicago White Sox, had learned of the fix before the World Series began from both Kid Gleason, manager of the White Sox, and Hugh Fullerton, a Chicago baseball reporter.  Yet, he was never fined, reprimanded, or punished in any way.  Sound familiar?

Baseball management’s drug policy has prohibited steroid use without a prescription since 1991, but the policy had no penalties associated with it.  Why?  Because fans were happy and money flowed. Sosa sat alongside Rafael Palmeiro, Canseco and McGwire at a 2005 hearing before Congress and testified: “To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.”

“I have never injected myself or had anyone inject me with anything,” he told the House Government Reform Committee on March 17, 2005. “I have not broken the laws of the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic. I have been tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.”

Sammy Sosa likely lied in official testimony to Congress in 2005.  It’s a crime called perjury.  Yet no moral clause was ever evoked for him or Palmeiro, who tested positive for steroids after his testimony.
So where do we go from here?vince_mcmahon_-_ecw_champion


My final thought on the matter of steroids in baseball is as follows:

Steroid use without a prescription has always been illegal outside of the game in America, so why did baseball develop a special set of laws to govern an already illegal activity?  Where is the moral clause and in fairness to the players, where is the penalty to the owners and executives of Major League Baseball who turned the other cheek in the interest of the game..or the almighty dollar? MLB owners deserves no less scrutiny than Vince McMahon received when his employees started dying from chronic steroid and painkiller abuse.


So the question of the day: Does Sammy Sosa deserve to be in the Hall of Fame?

In giving my answer, know this admission of honesty by Soxman.  As a former member of the White Sox, I loved Sammy Sosa even when he wore the colors of the enemy.  I owned a Sosa Jersey, his Wheaties Box, and a hat which commemorated his 66* (like the asterisk?), bombs in 1998. 6th on baseballs all-time HR list with 609*.  1667 RBIs*, 234 SBs* and a lifetime .534 slugging percentage* is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration, providing the Hall, which is the protector of our game’s history, however dark it may be, has the courage to tell a truth its owners and players couldn’t.

* All record denoted with an asterisk are reflective of an era in major league baseball where performance enhancing substances while illegal, where not actively tested for.

Is Sammy Sosa Hall of Fame worthy?

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.