The Chicago Cubs announced this morning that they would be retiring the jersey of estranged player Sammy Sosa during the course of the 2016 season.
Sosa played for the Cubs from 1992 through the 2004 season and was a part of two memorable teams including the 1998 Wild Card team as well as the 2003 club which came within five outs of the World Series.
His tenure with the club came to an end under questionable circumstances which included his leaving the last game of the season early, and being busted when the footage of his leaving from the players parking lot was leaked to the public. There was also the incident where an unnamed player famously smashed the boombox which he foolishly left behind when he departed.
In his time with the Cubs, Sosa drilled 545 homeruns (team record) to go with 1414 RBI.
Speaking this morning, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts explained why he was choosing to retire Sosa’s jersey now, in the middle of what could well be a historic season for the franchise.
“We have always been up front with the fan base. We have always stated that we would love to have Sammy come back to the Cubs family one day. The only caveat was that he needed to do something before we would even consider his return. What better time to bring back one of the greatest players in team history, than a year when we could very well win the World Series?”
While the Ricketts family was never upfront with what exactly needed to be done on Sosa’s end, there was always a general feeling among the Cub fan faithful that they needed to hear an admission as well as an apology. You do not have to think too hard about what those two would be involving.
Sosa was said to be in the Arizona area since the middle of February, and whispers were that he had made contact with a select group of players as well as former players who are now associated with the club. From there, getting together with the Ricketts family was easy, and the rest (as they say) is history.
When pressed for a date, Ricketts revealed that they would be honoring Sosa Tuesday night, June 21 in a game against the St. Louis Cardinals. The reasons why they chose this day can reasonably be determined because of his historic month of June where he belted out a record 20 homers (which still stands as the record for most homers in any month) and because he wore number 21. Honoring him against the Cardinals is also reasonable as he was in that historic home run chase of 1998 against Cardinal’s slugger Mark McGwire.
The news today likely will not sit well with many Cubs fans as he still has the aura of a villainous cheater who besmirched the game’s legacy and the team itself.
However, if he has met the qualifications of the Ricketts family to earn this return, than I also tip my hat to him, and welcome “Slammin” Sammy Sosa back into the Cubs family!