The question of exactly why Sammy Sosa is trying to break back into baseball is one that has been bouncing around TV, radio, and blogs like this one for days now. Why would a 38 year old man want to rejoin a sport in which he proved two years ago that he couldn’t muster a batting average equal to his own weight in? It can’t be the money considering he’s looking to sign a minor league contract with his original team the Texas Rangers. It can’t be the lime light he misses, especially after the unprofessional way he left the Cubs and spat in the faces of his fans. So why does he want to come back? Well I can tell you why.
Right off the bat I’m going to let you all know I’m not the biggest fan of Sammy Sosa. I never was. Despite the fact that I’ve always been a Chicago Cubs fan, I just have never liked Sosa. But I’m going to try to put that aside in order to try to write this from a journalist’s perspective and not that of a scorned fan.
Before we cover why he’s trying to come back, we should probably think about IF he can come back. After all he’s approaching 40 years old, he’s slow, he hasn’t played in over a year (and when he did play he was terrible), he’s a horrible teammate, he has a tarnished past, and that’s not even referring to any steroid accusations. Bottom line is if I were to put money down on whether or not this comeback amounted to anything, I would say 100% no. He has too much going against him.
I also decided to calculate some of Sosa’s numbers so you can better see the dramatic drop off in his statistics. From 1995-2004 Sammy Sosa was an offensive monster. During this nine year stretch he averaged a .286 batting average, 48 homers, and 123 RBI for each season during that time. That’s impressive. Then following Sosa’s abandonment of his teammates during the Cubs final game in 2004 when he left the stadium before it was even close to finishing, the right fielder would forever become a different player. So as the 2004 season wrapped up, so did Sosa’s career as a Cub. He was now off to join the Baltimore Orioles.
You see around this time the rumblings about players using steroids was just starting to pick up steam. Names and faces were starting to be labeled as “users” (fairly or not) and a lot of pressure was put down on the league as rumors swirled. The names Bonds, Sheffield, and Sosa were common ones being linked to using performance enhancing drugs. The following spring as players began to file back into their spring training complexes, some changes could be seen. Some players were not only wearing new uniforms, but also uniforms a size smaller than the previous season. Sosa was one of a few noticable players that had for some reason shrunk since the end of 2004. Very strange indeed.
Now I’m not going to sit and point fingers that just as quickly as Sammy had grown in size when he left the White Sox in 1991 that he had mysteriously shrunk over the winter. I’m not saying, I’m just saying. But Sosa’s jersey wasn’t the only thing that shrunk when he joined the O’s. His statistics plummeted from the incredible averages I listed above, to a meager .221 average, 14 homers, and 45 RBI. This is even more perplexing considering he was now in Camden Yards which is a right handed hitters park. The old sluggin’ Sammy was gone seemingly forever. Sosa and the Orioles would soon part ways.
Now I’m not saying that Sosa’s drop in productivity was due to him quitting the “juice” as you can come to your own conclusions. But what I am saying is that any hopes that Sammy has of coming back into baseball are very slim. So that brings us back to the original question. Why does he want to come back now?
My answer is very simple. All Sosa needs to do is play in one major league game, just one, and it postpones his Hall of Fame candidacy for another two years. And I believe his hopes are that by then the whole “should Mark McGwire be in the Hall of Fame” debate will be over and McGwire will be elected into the Hall of Fame. That way not only will he hopefully avoid the spotlight and not face the same steroid scruitiny as his former home run mate, but also that it will help make it easier for him to be elected.
That way he can celebrate and pop the “cork” on a Hall of Fame career.
No pun intended.