A pop, a hop and a trot….that epitomized the 1990’s for the Chicago Cubs. He, in all his glory, was the shining star of the team and the center of attention for all fans. His sprint to right field electrified the entire stadium before a pitch was even thrown. He made millions upon millions for the franchise and gave us the hope of a better day. We watched him grow into a man before our very eyes while he stole our hearts. Even in a 10-2 loss, as long as he went yard, it was a good day and the beer gardens were overflowing with people more so than their respective beers.
Seasons continued to turnover and home run records were evaporating before our very eyes. Again, he managed to not only capture the nation but make us all cry that night in 2001 when he charged out to right field with the beautiful American flag flapping in right hand. He went on to finish that season as the first and only player in major league history to hit 60 homeruns in three different professional seasons.
Two seasons later, on a team loaded for bear, he was hit in the head with a Salomon Torres pitch on Easter Sunday. About two months after that his bat broke in half and at that very moment, his legend began to break in half as well. He kept it together for most of the season and into the playoffs. He hit one of the most memorable homeruns in Cubs history to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth during Game One of the NLCS. Eight short days later, the storybook season ended in a ‘horror movie’ type of manner and the crack in the legend began to deepen.
The ‘corked bat’ incident only worsened when whispers of steroids began circulating through the baseball media. The ’04 season was promising, the Cubs were good and a return to the playoffs seemed imminent. Then the team and the manager unraveled, blaming everyone from umpires to their own announcers, even physically threatening them at one point. They ultimately collapsed over the last week of the season and the once beloved star walked out on his team early and in the end, forever. One of his fellow players, ahem….KW, took a bat to his infamous boom-box and like that, his lore was finished, his time done and his storybook existence ruined.
All any fan wanted was to get him out of town and that is what the Hendry finally did. After a pathetic ’05 campaign, the once beloved star called it quits and returned to his homeland. He was never to be heard from again, or so we thought. After a year on the proverbial pine the popping, hopping and trotting star is back. Sure the average is down, but the pop and the hop are most definitely still there, it is almost a sight to be seen.
Some may feel the way I do and some may disagree, but as my favorite baseball team prepares to face the heart and soul of their past, there is only one thing I want to say….
I forgive you Sammy.
Feel free to contact me at [email protected] and until next time….
Stay Classy Cubs Fans!!