Former Chicago Cub Outfielder Sammy Sosa filed for free agency on Monday, October 31st. Sosa had a very unsuccessful season with the Baltimore Orioles after being traded last January for Jerry Hariston, Jr., infielder Mike Fontenot and pitcher Dave Crouthers. Sosa hit only .221 with14 home runs and 45 RBI’s in 102 games for the Orioles. Sammy was often injured and finished the season on the DL. Sosa was dealt as a way of a means to an end. The Cubs picked up $12 million of Sosa’s $17 million dollar contract in 2005. The dead money on Sosa really hurt the Cubs for the 2005 season and all of the controversy that surrounded Sosa’s last days in Chicago remained with the club throughout the 2005 season. I was a HUGE Sammy Sosa fan until the last day of the 2004 season. I stood behind him and even defended him to my friends and co-workers during the corked bat incident and throughout the whole steroids controversy. He helped me come back to the game I love. I was very jaded after the strike in 1994 and it took me a couple of years to start really watching baseball and the Cubs again. Don’t get me wrong, I was following the game, just not the way I did before the strike and not like I do now. Then came 1998 and the home run chase and I was rooting for Sosa the entire way. How could I root for a Cardinal to do anything? But lose. I loved to watch the ‘hop’ and he made the game fun again.
Sosa was with the Cubs from 1992-2004 and was acquird in a trade with the White Sox for outfielder George Bell. Sammy’s best season as a Cub was in 1998 when he won the National League MVP. He hit .308 with 66 home runs and 158 RBI’s. JUST UNBELIEVABLE. Sosa is the Cubs’ All-Time Leader in home runs with 545 (Ernie Bank’s is 2nd with 512), ranks 3rd in RBI’s with 1414 (Cap Anson is 1st with 1879 and he played with the Cubs from 1876-1897), ranks 38th with a .284 batting average (Bill Madlock is 1st with a .336 average and he played with the Cubs from 1974-1976), 9th in hits with 1985 (Cap Anson is 1st with 2995) and 1st in strikeouts with 1815. Sosa is 5th on the career home run list with 588.
Sammy had a sub-par season in 2004, hitting just .253 with 35 home runs and 80 RBI’s. Don Baylor had named Sosa captain and when Dusty Baker took over in 2003, Sosa left the ‘C’ on his jersey. Although Dusty never recognized Sosa as being the team’s captain, the perception and title was there. When he left the game early (and did not even dress) on the last game of the season in 2004, I LOST ALL RESPECT FOR HIM!!!
I am a ‘team guy’. The team comes before the individual PERIOD and what Sosa did was inexcusable. He had to be traded and I applaud Jim Hendry for doing so. Deep down when Sosa was traded I was sad, but I knew it was the right move for the team and the entire organization.
We will never see another player like Sammy Sosa. He came along when the game and Chicago needed him. He helped make Wrigley the place to be on a summer afternoon. I wonder if we will ever see Sosa play again and if not at least we know he was good for the Cubs and baseball and baseball was very good to him.