I know that this is late, but it has been bothering me for the last week or so. Why is it that so many players with Hall of Fame stats are just sitting at home with no offers from teams? Are they hanging on too long, or do the clubs know something that we don’t. It really bothers me that players like Frank Thomas and Sammy Sosa that I really enjoyed as a kid could not go out on their own terms. Barry Bonds and Rafael Palmerio made their own beds, but the other guys did not.
I really loved Sosa when he came up with the Sox. He was the definition of the swing hard in case you hit it type of player. He then was traded to the Cubs (for George Bell) where he really blossomed into a great player. He took the country by storm in 1998 when he raced along with Mark McGwire to 61 home runs. He was in the stadium when Mark broke the record. He was the first to hit 65, and finished the 1998 season with 66 (four behind McGwire). During that run a box of hits bats from the Hoosier bat company accidentally broke open at the UPS facility that I worked at, and I was able to swing a Sosa bat. It was a couple of days later that he hit home run #61. Did I swing that bat? Maybe. The next season he hit 63 home runs. He was the first player to hit 60+ home runs in back to back seasons, and still had not led the league. He finally did in 2000 when he hit 50 home runs. He hit 64 in 2001, but of course that is the season Bonds hit 73. He is the only player to hit 60+ home runs in three seasons, but never led the league in those seasons. What kind of bad luck is that? In 2003 he broke his bat during a game versus the Devil Rays and cork was found in the bat. (The picture above is not of that day. I actually took it in 2000) Sosa claimed that he accidentally grabbed the wrong bat, but his downhill slide started here. The next season he went on the disabled list when he sneezed, and then he left the last game of the season early. Needless to say the Cubs (where he was once a God) did not want him back. He finished out his career as a DH in the American League with the Orioles and the Rangers.
I saw Sammy hit some great home runs. Although if you went to a game between the years of 1998-2002 you had a great shot. I saw him hit home run #590 when he came back to Chicago in 2007 to play the White Sox. It is still the highest number that I have seen in person. He hit #600 later in the season, and finished his career with 609 home runs. When he announced his retirement he said that he will await his induction into the Hall of Fame. Will he get in is the question? He has never been directly linked to the steroid controversy, but the whispers are there. The Hall of Fame voters will have a real test when his name comes up. What do you think of the Sosa question? Leave a comment, and let me know where you think he stands in Major League Baseball history.
Edit 6/16/2009: If I had waited just one day I would have been right on time for these reports of him testing positive in 2003. Now he has been linked to steroids on paper for the first time. Another name gets tarnished by performance enhancing drugs. Maybe it would be best for baseball to completely divulge these names, or burn the list. New names coming out every couple of months is not good for the sport.