Where have you gone, Sammy Sosa?
Not that a nation has turned its lonely eyes to Sammy or anything like that, but with all the hullabaloo over the upcoming baseball Hall of Fame announcement, the big name perhaps getting the least attention in the debate is Sosa's.
Contact information ( * required )
Unless you've been living in a different plane of reality, you're fully aware this is the biggest Hall of Fame ballot of the so-called Steroid Era, an era in which Sosa resided, whether you believe he partook or not.
Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire have been on previous ballots and have underwhelmed, but Sosa is up for election for the first time this winter along with Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the two biggest names from the Steroid Era.
So far this winter, Bonds and Clemens have dominated the discussions. Slammin' Sammy seems to have been an afterthought.
And while it's a good bet none of the three will gain election this year by the Baseball Writers Association of America, early exit polling seems to indicate that Bonds and Clemens will get a lot more votes than Sosa.
In one unofficial total, published Thursday by Deadspin and based on ballots that have been made public, Bonds and Clemens were in the early top 10, each garnering 46.4 percent of the 75 percent of the vote necessary to gain election by the BBWAA. Sosa did not crack this top 10.
For the record, I did not vote for Bonds, Clemens or Sosa this time, but I do find the relative silence surrounding Sammy a bit puzzling.
First, few players were more outgoing than Sosa during his playing days, although he was much more outgoing when things were going his way. If a crisis cropped up, he and his handlers (paid and media) were there to patch things up with damage control.
Nowadays, we hear nothing from Sammy. I don't even know if he has handlers anymore. His backers in the media pretty much abandoned him after he got caught with a corked bat in 2003.
It was pretty much all downhill after that, leading up to his nasty fight with then-manager Dusty Baker and subsequent trade to the Baltimore Orioles after the 2004 season.
Here's something else: Sosa would go into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, and the club has not done a thing on Sosa's behalf or even invited him back to any functions, to the best of my knowledge.
A year-and-a-half or so back, Cubs beat writers had a meeting with team chairman Tom Ricketts, and I asked him about a public reconciliation with Sosa. Ricketts wasn't ready to address it on the record at the time.
All that said, I don't disagree with the Cubs' stance.
The Cubs did do a lot of heavy lifting in advance of the late Ron Santo being elected by the veterans committee last winter.
Sosa would be the first player in a long time to gain BBWAA election as a Cub -- Andre Dawson went in as an Expo, and Greg Maddux most assuredly will go in as a Brave -- as he hit 545 of his 609 home runs with the Cubs.
Back in 1998, I believe I was the first writer to posit that Sosa was on his way to Hall of Fame consideration in an article titled "The Bronze Age."
That was during Sosa's 66-homer season, at the end of which he had 277 for his career. Given his age at the time (almost 30, if his listed birth date is accurate), he was a good bet to get to 500, which was the benchmark for Cooperstown.
But the Steroid Era changed all that.
In the decade I've been a Hall of Fame elector, I've gotten all kinds of literature backing all kinds of candidates from Barry Larkin to Edgar Martinez to Bert Blyleven to Dale Murphy.
For Sosa, I've received nothing.
Perhaps the lack of noise surrounding Sosa is because many feel he would not have been a Hall of Famer without the performance-enhancing drugs (if he indeed took them) but that Bonds and Clemens would have been Hall of Famers before the Steroid Era (if indeed they partook).
Given all the exciting moments, positive and negative, I covered with Sammy over the years, it's hard to believe his Hall of Fame candidacy is beginning with barely a whimper.