If Manny can join Cubs, what about Sammy?

The email arrived late Sunday morning.


The calendar confirmed that this wasn't April Fools' Day. The clock confirmed that it was too late in the weekend for "Saturday Night Live."

This wasn't a joke or prank or skit by the baseball franchise that is cursed and jinxed and hexed.

Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein actually hired Ramirez.

The news release quoted Epstein as gushing, "We are excited to welcome Manny to the Cubs organization and look forward to him working with our hitters."

Which, of course, raises the inevitable question of why Manny and not Sammy?

Manny Ramirez and Sammy Sosa both have a scarlet "S" for "Steroids" splattered all over their respective baseball resumes.

Yet Ramirez - who never played for the Cubs but once helped the Dodgers beat them in the playoffs - is welcomed into the organization.

Meanwhile, Sosa - who for years hit all those homers for the Cubs and filled all those Wrigley Field seats with admirers - is still unwelcome around the ballclub and ballpark.

Each baseball fan and executive draws his or her own line concerning the steroids era.

The line might depend on how many steroids a player used, how often he used them, how long he used them, what years he used them, how good he was before he used them, how bad he was after he stopped using them, how large his hat size became …

Epstein has drawn the line on this side of Ramirez and the other side of Sosa.


Well, one clue is the sentence, "Manny has made real mistakes in the past, but he has owned up to them and moved his life in a positive direction the last couple of years."

Published reports quote Epstein as saying Ramirez was open with Major League Baseball officials after being caught using performance-enhancing drugs and that he regrets his selfishness while playing in Boston.

Regardless, Epstein and club chairman Tom Ricketts might be holding out for Sosa to issue a notarized confession that he used performance enhancers.

Ramirez was suspended twice for using PEDS, which alone confirms that he used them. Sosa was long suspected but never suspended for using PEDS, which apparently also confirms to people that he used them.

Maybe steroids aren't the issue. Maybe Epstein and Ricketts want Sosa to express remorse for being caught using a corked bat. Or maybe they want him to suffer some more for walking out on the team during the final day of the 2004 season.

The thing is, whatever Ramirez was taking or not taking in 2004, he helped Epstein help the Red Sox end their 86-year World Series title drought.

Sosa's difficulty in reconnecting with the Cubs is that hardly anyone important who benefited from his contributions to the franchise is still around.

Look, this isn't meant to condemn the Cubs for hiring Ramirez. I enjoyed the guy as a true baseball character, as a terrific hitter and as someone who helped his teams be winners.

If Epstein believes that Ramirez can help develop the young hitters in the Cubs' system, then it's OK to employ him like the Dodgers employ Mark McGwire and the Giants employ Barry Bonds.

But then at least invite Sosa to the Cubs Convention next winter. If fans don't agree with that decision, they can boo him when he's introduced.

Heck, let fans purchase tickets for the privilege of dunking Ramirez into a tank of liquid PEDs with all proceeds going to Cubs Care.

That would make more sense than suddenly embracing Manny Ramirez while continuing to ostracize Sammy Sosa.

It's time for an email that reads "CUBS REINTRODUCE THEMSELVES TO THE SAMMINATOR."

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