The newest member of the Chicago Cubs roster is right fielder Scott Hairston. That’s fine, I’m sure he will be a serviceable player. He did hit 20 home runs in 2012, which would have been good enough for second place on the Cubs roster, but there’s another problem that is burning me even more. In 2013, Hairston will be wearing the jersey No. 21.
The same jersey number that was being worn by long time Cub, and all-time franchise home run king, Sammy Sosa. That should irk just about every Cubs fan, no matter what their perspective is on Sosa. It was odd to see lower-end players like Terrell Lowery wearing Ron Santo‘s No. 10, it’s been weird to see flame-outs like Felix Pie wear Mark Grace‘s No. 17, and it’s been just as odd to see the likes of Jason Marquis and Hairston in Sosa’s uniform number.
Yes, there is a very good chance that Sosa is guilty of taking performance-enhancing drugs to elevate his game to elite status, but the impact he had on the Cubs franchise and the surrounding community far outweigh those negatives. Remember how cheap bleacher tickets were before the home run chase between Sosa and Mark McGwire? A child could afford to go to a couple of day games at Wrigley Field each week with just their allowance.
After that legendary summer of 1998, though, prices went through the roof. The bleachers are now the hottest destination in all of baseball (when the Cubs are winning). The rooftops were even a destination when heavy hitters like Glenallen Hill had a threat of hitting a towering fly ball in that direction. If it wasn’t for Sosa (and his cheating), the Cubs wouldn’t be a premiere money-maker they way that they have been since his 1998 season.
For that, they should rebuild the burnt down bridge with the slugger and retire his number as a gesture to the impact he had on Chicago. Even if it was tainted. Because after all, that’s what it comes down to. Baseball is a business and a form of entertainment, not a morality competition.
Korey Beckett is a Baseball Writer with RantSports, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments and questions.