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Sammy Sosa Should Be Honored by Cubs—Just Not Yet

Jerry Burnes@@JerryBurnesAnalyst IJune 6, 2009

Former Cubs right fielder Sammy Sosa announced he will retire and await his induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Confident words for someone so closely linked to the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Considering how the voting has gone for Mark McGwire, it doesn't look good for Sosa, or Barry Bonds, or Roger Clemens, or...well, you get the picture.

As for his former team, the Cubs already said goodbye to one pinstripe legend this season when Greg Maddux retired. His number was retired in May.

The question of what to do with Sosa in Wrigleyville has become a water-cooler topic since the slugger's announcement. Current Cubs first baseman Derrek Lee told the Chicago Tribune he thinks Sosa should be honored by the Cubs, citing the fact that none of the allegations have been proven. Cubs fans can think back to his last stint with the Cubs in 2004 when he exited the season finale early and was soon after traded to Baltimore for Mike Fontenot and Jerry Hairston Jr.

Needless to say, Sosa didn't leave Chicago on a good note. He eventually landed in Texas in 2007 after sitting out 2006 and hit his 600th home run off of the Cubs' Jason Marquis. Sosa has yet to be signed by a team in 2009.

In some respects, I agree with Lee that Sosa should be honored by the Cubs, but as Lee said, it won't be while he is in Chicago. That's how it should be, too. No offense to Lee, but he won't be in Chicago long enough to see Sosa honored the way he should be. Right now, there's still too much animosity between Sosa, the fans, the organization, and baseball itself over the steroid allegations, the corked bat (yes, still) and the way he left Chicago.

Look at the players the Cubs have honored: Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg, Maddux, and Fergie Jenkins. Like them, Sosa defined the organization when he played in Wrigley. He had a cult following in the right field bleachers and played a big role in the 1998 Wild Card appearance and the 2003 NLCS run. He is the only MLB player to have three 60-home run seasons and has the most home runs in franchise history. Don't forget how many butts Sosa put in the seats at Wrigley Field—a ton.

He certainly deserves recognition from the Cubs. I'm not fully on board with retiring his number...ever. I feel as if Sosa, steroids aside, left a tainted legacy in Chicago upon his departure. Fans didn't love Sammy the way San Francisco loved Bonds when he was not resigned. The love-hate relationship between the faithful and slugger went way south.

But maybe, in another few years or so, the Cubs can invite Sosa to Wrigley for Opening Day. Call it Sammy Sosa day, give out a commemorative something, have a little pregame ceremony, throw out the first pitch, sing the seventh inning stretch—the works. Just don't disgrace the flag poles of Wrigley Field with the No. 21. Maybe put a logo on the right-field entrance to the batting cages with a silhouette of Sosa that commemorates his years in Chicago like the Giants did for Bonds's 756th home run.

Something simple. Something that means something but won't be missed too much when the Cubs move out of Wrigley or put another Under Armour advertisement over it. Just like Sosa's career, it could mean something until the novelty wore off.

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