I know you don’t see posts about real sports on this site, but I couldn’t pass this story up. While appearing on an ESPN radio show, Cubs Hall of Fame second baseman (and my favorite player of all time) Ryne Sandberg said that his former teammate Sammy Sosa doesn’t belong in the hall of fame due to being implicated for using steroids during his home-run filled career. Sosa was recently cited by the New York Times as one of 103 players to fail a performance-enhancing drug test during the 2003 season.
Sandberg claims that during the years that he and Sosa were teammates on the Cubs (’92-’94, ’96-’97), Sosa did not seem to be taking any performance enhancers. However, shortly after Sandberg’s retirement, Sosa seemed to bulk up quickly, and his power numbers rose dramatically. During the years the two players shared a clubhouse (I included ’95 while Sandberg was “retired”), Sosa averaged 1 home run per 16.8 at bats. Starting in 1998-2003 (when Sosa tested positive for PED’s), he averaged a home run every 10.6 at bats, including seasons of 63, 64 and 66 home runs. For someone’s power ratings to go up so dramatically after the age of thirty is a little bit striking. Sandberg said that Sosa spent a lot of time in the batting cages, and to be fair, you don’t get home runs just because you take steroids. You still have to get the bat on the ball, but how he and McGwire chased home run history clearly went against the rules of baseball.
I agree with Sandberg that members of the Baseball Hall of Fame need to have integrity. There’s a reason that Pete Rose isn’t there and a reason that Sosa, Bonds and Big Mac shouldn’t be there either. Their actions during their baseball years throw that integrity into question. I admit that, as a young fan, I was caught up in the glitz and glamor of all the home runs being hit, but now I see that it was a tainted time in baseball’s history. It turned America’s pasttime into a three-ring circus, and defiled some of the most hallowed records in the sport. In the long run, I think this will be as damaging of a time for baseball as the strike in 1994 and will only be worse if they let these players into Cooperstown.
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