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posted: 3/6/2014 5:30 AM

No good reason to keep Sosa away

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  • The Cardinals had no problem bringing Mark McGwire, left, back into the family, so it's about time the Cubs did the same for Sammy Sosa.

      The Cardinals had no problem bringing Mark McGwire, left, back into the family, so it's about time the Cubs did the same for Sammy Sosa.
    Associated Press File/July 1999

 
 

Tom Ricketts referred to it as "a really good question" on Wednesday.

The Cubs' chairman was a guest on WGWG-FM, the new all-sports talk station, with hosts David Kaplan and David Haugh.

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Ricketts talked about Cubs ownership trying to resolve the rooftop issue and Cubs management trying to win games.

You know, all the blah-blah-blah stuff.

Ricketts also addressed the "really good question," which was about Sammy Sosa expressing a desire to be welcomed back into the Cubs family.

The really vague answer included "not sure we will ever get there" and "that issue brings up so many emotions with so many people" and "we really haven't gone down that path."

Here's the more sensible response: The Cubs should invite Sosa to the club's 2015 fan convention.

Ricketts is steadfast in wanting to preserve the history of the franchise by renovating Wrigley Field.

Well, then, how can the history of the Cubs be preserved in full if Sosa isn't included?

It can't be.

The Cardinals, one of baseball's model franchises, brought back Mark McGwire as hitting coach despite his involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.

The Giants, winners of two recent World Series, embrace Barry Bonds despite all his scandalous behavior.

So why wouldn't the Cubs -- not exactly a model franchise or a champion since 1908 -- follow the leaders and reintroduce themselves to Sosa?

"It's just such a touchy thing," Ricketts said on the radio, "and there would have to be a lot of discussion before moving forward."

Yes, the thing is touchy, and, yes, there would have to be a lot of discussion.

So let's get started.

Of course there's a difference between Sosa and McGwire and between Sosa and Bonds.

Purists among Cubs fans aren't disgusted only because Sosa has been implicated in using performance enhancers. There also is the matter of him being caught using a corked bat and the matter of him leaving the team in the middle of a game.

To Sosa's critics the transgressions add up to three strikes -- steroids, cork and delinquency.

Ban the bum forever!

Yet Sosa isn't any more unsavory than McGwire and Bonds, so why is he banished and why were they welcomed?

One reason is the relative ownership groups of the three franchises involved in this discussion.

Still in charge of the Giants and Cardinals are the people who were there when Bonds and McGwire were hitting balls out of their ballparks and bringing fans into their ballparks.

They're the investors who benefited financially from the longball rescuing baseball after a labor dispute canceled the 1994 World Series.

Ricketts was only a fan back when Sosa became the only player ever to hit more than 60 home runs in each of three seasons.

In fact, hardly anyone in the Cubs' front office was around when Sosa was playing except for business chief Crane Kenney, and would you entrust him with a decision as important as this?

The Ricketts family didn't have a stake in baseball during the years when Sosa kept filling Wrigley Field. But if Tom Ricketts were as big a Cubs fan as he's reputed to have been, he likely was up cheering whenever Sosa came to bat.

Maybe Ricketts even purchased the 2003 media guide with a photo-shopped cover of Sosa standing with Ernie Banks, both of them in their Cubs uniforms.

As different as their conduct was as players, how do you have a history of the Cubs without including both Banks and Sosa?

It's time to reunite them again by inviting the Samminator back into Mr. Cub's family.

The question about Sammy Sosa was really good, but the answer isn't really complicated.

mimrem@dailyherald.com

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