In a recent interview with Chicago Magazine, Sammy Sosa commented on the fact that the Cubs have not retired his No. 21 jersey.
“That number should be untouchable because of the things that I did for that organization,” Sosa said. “That right there shows me that they don’t care about me, and they don’t want to have a good relationship with me.”
Currently, Tyler Colvin wears Sosa’s old number. Former Cub Jason Marquis also wore the number during his time with the Cubs in 2007-08.
Chicago has retired the numbers of six former Cubs: Ernie Banks (14), Ron Santo (10), Ryne Sandberg (23), Billy Williams (26), Greg Maddux (31), and Ferguson Jenkins (31).
Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 was retired by Major League Baseball back in 1997.
The question is this: Does Sammy Sosa deserve to have his number retired by the Cubs?
Former Cubs manager and current Washington Nationals manager Jim Riggleman added his two cents in an interview with the Chicago Tribune:
“In a perfect world I would rather that no one else was wearing it, but I think they definitely respect what he did there,” Riggleman said. “It’s not for me to say why or why not, but maybe down the road there’s a protégé of Sammy who he would like to see wearing it.”
It seems what Riggleman was trying to say is:
“If he hadn’t have done steroids, of course the Cubs would have retired his number! They definitely appreciate all the money Sosa made them with his insane home run totals. I mean, I don’t really want to say one way or another that he did steroids, but… he did. Maybe someone else down the road that puts up numbers like Sosa without actually cheating should wear his number. Maybe Sosa would like that.”
There are plenty of reasons why the Cubs would retire his number. He hit 545 home runs as a Cub from 1993-2005. He’s one of only seven players with more than 600 career home runs. He once hit 20 home runs in one month. One month! He is the only player in history to have three seasons of 60-plus home runs. He was a seven time All-Star and the 1998 MVP. He led the league in games played three times.
Sammy Sosa was a stud.
No one would look at those statistics and not retire a player’s number. Unless there was more to it.
As we all know, there was.
When Sosa was asked about the report the New York Times published last summer that he was one of 104 players who tested positive for steroids in 2003, Sosa responded:
“I don’t want to talk about that. Let’s talk about something else.”
No Sammy. If we’re talking about why your number is not retired by the Cubs, that is what we’re going to have to discuss. You can’t separate the issues.
The Cubs have clearly not retired Sosa’s number because of the proof that Sosa used steroids.
Yes, the Cubs and Sosa did not part ways on good terms after he left the final game of 2004 early. But that is not the reason you don’t see his number flying on a flag on a Wrigley Field foul pole.
So again, the question remains: Does Sammy Sosa deserve to have his number retired by the Cubs?
Well, I don’t know.
In an effort for Major League Baseball to move ahead after the Steroid explosion, too many issues have been left unresolved.
What are we going to do with the records and statistics? You can’t just throw out a whole decade of statistics and group the innocent in with the guilty. All statistics do is represent what happened. All of those numbers and statistics happened, even if they were achieved in dishonest ways.
Will those implicated in the steroids fiasco be allowed into the Hall of Fame? As of now, the answer has been no. Will they ever? Who knows?
In my opinion, everything should be business as usual. Elect Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, Clemens, etc into the Hall of Fame. It’s going to be too hard to sort out who did and didn’t use steroids. I believe that the steroids helped superstars put up some bigger numbers- but it didn’t make them superstars. They already were. Heck, guys like Marvin Benard used steroids, and he still sucked.
50 years from now, I think it will be more beneficial for your grandkids to look at the statistics and wonder why some of the greatest players from our generation put up such inflated numbers. We’ll be able to tell them all about the Steroid Era.
Whether you hate that players used and consider it cheating or couldn’t care less, it still happened.
And in all this, let’s not let the teams get off scotch free. Do you think the Chicago Cubs or any other team had no idea what was going on? Of course they knew- but it was bringing in the dollars at the time.
Maybe Sosa doesn’t deserve to have his number flying on a flag at Wrigley as much as the Cubs deserve to be flying it. They were an aid to the era and benefitted from it just like every other team did. There’s no reason teams like the Cubs and Major League Baseball in general should get off making it look like it was only the players fault.
So my opinion? Retire Sosa’s number and fly it on a flag. You don’t have to celebrate it. It shouldn’t be celebrated. But it’s a part of Cubs history now.
If Sosa wants to be honored for what he did for the Cubs, let him. Fans can form their own opinions on what happened when they see the No. 21 on the flag.
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