Today is Presidents’ Day, so I hope you guys enjoyed the half-assed history lesson I posted earlier. We’re getting close to the point where another sitting President will have to host the Chicago Cubs at the White House after a long-awaited Fall Classic victory, but let’s put that on the back burner for now.
Earlier today, Aaron Gleeman at HardballTalk posted a blog entry to note the anniversary of the huge Alex Rodriguez trade that brought the controversial superstar to New York City. Amazing that it’s been 11 years:
And as you might expect from a longtime Yankee who performed so well, both in terms of individual accomplishments and winning a championship–including hitting .365 with six homers and a 1.308 OPS during the 2009 title run–Rodriguez is universally beloved by all New Yorkers and embraced by team management.
That sounds like someone you’d celebrate, right? But wait:
Wait, no. Scratch that. The exact opposite. Happy anniversary!
Ken Rosenthal wrote an opinion piece on the New York Yankees trying to cut their losses in the A-Rod saga. The gist is that the Yankees are probably not going to be very good this year compared to their division rivals, and with Derek Jeter having retired, the club will need someone (or something) else to sell their tickets. Why not use A-Rod when they’re going to have to pay him anyway? Rosenthal’s blurb is a good read and you should check it out.
I guess you could say that the Cubs have a similar issue with a superstar of their own. In the case of the 2015 Cubs, the future is much brighter than what the Yankees have now, so there’s no urgency to bring the guy back because of ticket sales, but at the same time, I think you need to consider principle here (and I realize that everyone has different principles, I’m just putting out my own opinions).
Let us look at one Sammy Sosa.
Like Gleeman’s snarky blurb above, we can create a similar narrative for Sosa, though of course the Cubs haven’t won that elusive championship yet:
As the face of the Chicago Cubs franchise for most of his 13 seasons in uniform, Sammy Sosa played at or near superstar levels, hitting .284/.358/.569 and amassing 545 home runs while collecting over 1400 runs batted in.
Sosa won the 1998 National League Most Valuable Player award while reinvigorating interest in baseball across the nation and leading the Cubs into the playoffs for the first time in nine years. He was also phenomenal in the 2003 National League Championship Series, hitting .308/.455/.577 and helping the Cubs to the brink of the World Series.
As you might expect from a long-time Cubs player who performed so well, Sosa is universally beloved by all Chicagoans and embraced by team management.
Try saying that last paragraph with a straight face. You really can’t, can you?
Sosa is so ostracized by fans (less nowadays than before, but still) and team ownership and management that he couldn’t even attend the memorial services of Ernie Banks for fear that he would cause a distraction. We’ve tried almost every year to ask Tom Ricketts about what the deal is, as you might see from our blogs under the Sammy Sosa tag. Each year we get the same wishy-washy non-answer and Sammy stays on the outside looking in.
As one of the most popular players on Team WSD, we’ll keep on working the phones to get Sammy Sosa and the Cubs to reunite. They don’t need him to sell tickets, but I’m sure a large proportion of Cubs fans would be happy to see one of the best players in team history as part of the family again.