I’ve always compared steroids in baseball to breast implants. Both are artificial “performance” enhancers that excite men despite the obvious fraud. A few years ago, radio host Doug Gottlieb took my analogy further saying Barry Bonds is like Demi Moore and Sammy Sosa like Pamela Anderson. Bonds/Moore were already well known and established before receiving their enhancements; which took their careers to the next level. Sosa/Anderson were complete nobodies until they got their enhancements.
That’s why you can make a case (but shouldn’t) for Bonds to be in the Hall of Fame, but there is ZERO rationale for Sosa. But Red Eye writer Matt Lindner disagrees with me. And his article has more holes than Sosa’s skin during the heyday of his (alleged) injections. Lindner writes:
What Sosa and others in his era are alleged to have done is morally deplorable, but penalizing players for putting up big numbers in the Steroid Era is equally ridiculous.
The fact of the matter is though, based on numbers alone, he is one of the greatest players to have ever played the game. On paper, he’s just as worthy—if not more so—than beloved Cub legends Ron Santo, Ryne Sandberg and Andre Dawson.
And if the Hall is going to deny entry to a guy who hit over 600 home runs and was a defensive force in right field who led some of the greatest Cubs teams ever, it shouldn’t exist to begin with.
Whoah! slow down there son. The Hall shouldn’t even exist without a guy who really did nothing except hit home runs? He wasn’t exactly a fixture among the Gold Glove awards either. Sosa started out as a skinny, strikeout prone outfielder with the White Sox and took his “Flintstone vitamins” to grow into a homer crushing overgrown human science project. That’s what Cooperstown needs! “Greatest Cubs teams ever?” What did they ever win other than a division title and NLDS in ’03, and the wild card in ’98? Sosa never played in a World Series, and was also on some of the worst Cubs teams of all time. Not to mention he quit on his team by leaving early on the final day of their failed pennant race in 2004. What great personal character qualifying for enshrinement in Cooperstown!
And he’s already been caught cheating! Remember back in 2003 with the corked bat incident? That he claims was a mistake because he only uses it “to put on a show for batting practice.” Then there was the congressional testimony on steroids, where Sosa seemed to forget how to speak English. It’s tough to look like a blatant liar in a room full of congressmen and women yet Sosa still pulled that one off. Although the physical evidence never emerged, a 2009 New York Times report claims Sosa tested positive for PEDs in 2003. So his character is assassinated enough.
However, yes the Hall does have scoundrels in it already. Ty Cobb was a horrid, disgusting racist. Although history has still not proven it, he is largely believed to have been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. And I agree with Lindner that it’s ridiculous to consider sportswriters proper judges of morality anyway. In fact media relations is unjustly one of the MAJOR criteria for Hall induction. Usually numerical benchmarks like 3,000 hits and 500 home runs are enough to gain enshrinement. But former Cub Dave Kingman has 442 career taters and he’s never even remotely considered. Fred McGriff is even closer to 500, and like Kingman is considered clean. But neither were flashy media darlings so both are left out in the cold. Craig Biggio had 3,000 hits but wasn’t hyped enough by the press during his playing career. And the HOF voters themselves have made a lot of dumb decisions. Santo, who shamelessly used the platforms available to him as Cubs color analyst to actively campaign for Hall admission finally gets in- the year after he dies. Seriously, the stupid voters couldn’t have let him in while he was still alive to enjoy it?
Back to Sosa, maybe we need a steroid wing in Cooperstown? That would solve everything.
But you have to let Joe Jackson and Pete Rose in before any of the steroid cheats like Sosa. Those who committed gambling related crimes are far less offensive morally than PED cheats. And Sosa is still somewhat persona non-grata with the Cubs organization. (Somewhat, there are flags at Wrigley honoring his “achievements.”) However, he’s still beloved by Cubs fans. I’m not accusing Linder of being a die-hard Cubs fan drunk off memories of sunshine, beer and artificially enhanced homers, but his Red Eye piece sure reads like he is. He makes a very dumb argument, especially when he claims Sosa is in the same class as Dawson, Sandberg and Santo. Horrible arguments such as these I would expect from a baseball neophyte Lincoln Park Trixie at Murphy’s Bleachers, not from a Tribune publication.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.