Since he took over as president of the Chicago Cubs, Theo Epstein has done a lot of fantastic things for the organization. The front office has been overhauled and the makings of a pretty impressive farm system are beginning to take shape. Ron Santo has been honored, as has Kerry Wood. The positives have helped outweigh the pain of watching a sure 100-loss ballclub.
Next season, he can get the year off to a terrific start, even if fans are expected to tolerate another low quality team fighting itself to avoid 100 losses. It’s time for Theo to start tossing the idea around of bringing back Sammy Sosa.
Kerry Wood was at Wrigley Field on Sunday with his family to sing the seventh inning stretch, as a part of “Kerry Wood Appreciation Day”. He mentioned the necessity to have some of the old players come back for their own days, including Greg Maddux and Mark Grace, but mentioned Sosa in particular.
Things obviously did not end on the best of terms between Sosa and the Cubs. His 2004 season was plagued with mysterious injuries, broken boomboxes, chemistry issues, and early departures from the park. He essentially quit on the team and it spelled the end for him as a member of the Cubs.
In his heyday, though, it’s impossible to overstate the value that Sosa had not just to the Cubs, but to Major League Baseball as a whole. His home run chase in 1998 with Mark McGwire brought scores of fans back and introduced an entirely new population to the game. He hit at least 60 home runs three times in his career. He’s one of the greatest hitters to ever play the game.
Yet, it seems he’s hardly acknowledged on the North Side these days. That needs to change.
The steroid thing is obviously still an issue for a lot of people. But players have either been welcomed back (McGwire, Barry Bonds) or will be at some point soon (Roger Clemens). Without getting too deep into it, it was the era. It needs its own wing in Cooperstown as a part of the game’s history, but that’s another discussion entirely.
As far as the way his incredible run with the Cubs came to an end, no one is saying bring him on board as someone like Billy Williams, who is going to be around the team constantly, helping out in the spring and making himself a role model for some of these young kids. We’re talking about acknowledging him as a massive part of this team’s history, and a potential jersey retirement.
It’s time for the Cubs to start reaching out and bringing some of these guys back into the fold, in some way, no one more than Sammy Sosa. He did so much for this team and this city. Say what you want about “looking towards the future” or whatever Theo jargon you could throw in there to completely dismiss the past. Players like Sosa are meant to be remembered.
He should absolutely have his own appreciation day at Wrigley Field, and I think Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein would be open to the idea. He’s just as landmark a figure as anyone in the history of this organization and needs to be there when this team finally does turn it around.