Thousands upon thousands of Chicago Cub fans are currently making their way to Daley Plaza as visitation for Ernie Banks beings. With the visitation and memorial services all taking place, you can bet that just about everyone with Cubs ties will be paying their respects; that is, except for Sammy Sosa who we learned will not be attending the services or memorial for Banks.
I (as well as everyone else here at World Series Dreaming) have always been a vast supporter of Sosa. Not so much for his steroid use, as much as he should be welcomed back into the Cubs family and appreciated for all that he had done for the organization (however he had done so) for over a decade. We are not alone in our thoughts, as there are a good amount of Cub fans who wish the same, Banks himself is another Sosa supporter who wanted him to be brought back into the Cubs family.
Banks last mission, one he wanted so badly, was to see Sosa and the Cubs reunite. He wanted to see the biggest Cubs star since he retired be welcomed back into the family. Unfortunately, the more Banks tied to bring them together, the more Tom Ricketts and the Cubs have tried to distance themselves from the former slugger. Claiming that there had to be some openness from Sosa before they could start down that path of reclamation, that was likely not going to happen any time soon. That never stopped the greatest Cub of all time from doing all he could so he could see them be one happy family again. Now, that is something that he will never see.
Banks had often referred to Sosa as being like a son to him, supported him when most people turned their backs on him. He also never held a grudge against Sosa for surpassing some of his records. Banks and Sosa are linked throughout Cubs history, and that is why people felt that Sosa would be there for anything that took place for Banks; unfortunately he will not be.
According to the Tribune article linked above, Sosa will be flying to Japan on Saturday for business meeting, something he already delayed once while waiting to hear what plans were being made. Unfortunately, his pushing things back mean that he has little choice but to miss out on the funeral service for Banks. If you postpone a business trip twice, you are likely to lose that business; though some things are worth losing for certain reasons.
If Sosa wanted to earn favor with the Cubs and start any discussion with his return to the Cubs family (as he has stated he wants) this would have been a great first step. Show support for the Banks family, and the fan base who felt scorned when he walked out on them on fan appreciation day in 2004 (even though Dusty Baker had given him permission to do so).
Sosa also states that he did not want to be seen as a distraction from what should be a day that is all about Banks Friday when there will be a public memorial service. Honestly, I believe him; even though I did not at first. Having Sosa show up at anything Cubs related is bound to cause a media storm for all the wrong reasons. Questions about him and his relationship with Banks are sure to be asked, but probably after questions about where his relationship with the Cubs currently stand. The day should be about remember Banks, and not anything involving Sosa. He was unsure if he would be able to arrange a private meeting with the Banks’ family before he left for business the following day.
I have no doubt that when he returns, Sosa will make amends to the Banks’ family and arrange a time to pay proper respects in a way that he will not be a distraction. Perhaps Banks’ widow will pick up the torch that was dropped when Ernie passed away and continue his mission. His wife no doubt knew of her husbands wishes.
Even though he postponed his business trip while waiting to hear about what would be done for Banks, he is likely right that he should not be at the services on Friday. Who knows, perhaps Sosa missing the memorial and funeral for Banks will be for the best. Showing Ricketts that he knows that the world does not revolve around him anymore, taking a back seat in the shadows.
Maybe, just maybe, Sosa will be there opening night when the Cubs start what is bound to be a season long tribute to the one and only Mr. Cub.