You now have permission to speak of them in the same sentence.
Sammy Sosa Linked to Steroids
So much for Sammy’s quiet retirement. For those of you that weren’t sure whether I wrote that article in all seriousness or not – I didn’t. I was just putting on my best Delusional Cubs Fan happy face to honor the player that made so many of us so happy for so many years. It’s not a lie to say that Sammy Sosa was loved by millions the world over. He really was and maybe still is.
But some of those heroics and home run feats weren’t entirely on the up and up. As reported by The New York Times, Sammy Sosa allegedly tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in a test conducted by MLB in 2003.
This is the same test that Alex Rodriguez failed as well, creating a storm of controversy this past spring. Alex Rodriguez then admitted that yes, he had used steroids as a member of the Texas Rangers and offered an apology to fans and his team. So far we don’t have any comment from Sammy Sosa and it will be interesting to see what, if anything he will have to say.
Although they are the only two names to be released, they were by no means the only players to test positive. There are still 102 other names on that list of players who tested positive in 2003. Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s possible that even more players used steroids or PEDs but still managed to pass the test because they masked it or got them out of their system in time for testing. Steroid era indeed.
At the time, this was the first ever league wide drug test of Major League Baseball players. The baseball players union agreed that MLB could conduct a league wide test as long as the results of the test would remain confidential. MLB agreed and said that if more than 5% of players failed the test that the league would institute drug testing. The tests were conducted, 7% of players failed and league wide steroid testing became mandatory.
But for some still unknown reason, the “anonymous” test results were never destroyed by the players union as had been agreed to by both sides. A few years later, the test results were seized as evidence by federal agents seeking information regarding illegal distribution of drugs. The government has never been very good at keeping secrets and since that time A-Rod and Sosa’s positive tests have leaked out. We’re not sure who the other names are but apparently several people have seen them by now and it seems like only a matter of time before more names are released.
Which brings us back to our fallen hero, Sammy Sosa. Once the most popular Cub, we haven’t seen him at Wrigley Field or Chicago in years. After so many years, his exit was hasty and without a moment of fanfare. Maybe that’s what makes this situation difficult. Whether he fled town or was kicked to the curb, we never got our closure. We never got to say thanks for the memories. Now we’re not sure if we want to.
Yes, many of us have had our doubts for years. Maybe not in 1998 because we were having so much fun and enjoying the moment. It was a different time and we didn’t know that we were in the middle of the “steroid era”. We were calling it the “juiced ball” era because we really thought all those home runs might have been caused by a change the way the baseballs were made. This was a real theory at the time and you would see it on the news. Of course it seems obvious now that we look back that players were growing gigantic and on steroids but it really wasn’t that way at the time.
I was never suspicious about it until years later. When Sammy was caught with a corked back, I just figured it was because he was in a slump and was trying to break out of it. When Sammy skipped town on the last game of the season, I was disappointed. The Sosa Era was over. When Sammy went in front of congress and suddenly forgot how to speak English, I began to think that something was fishy.
Now it’s years later. Sammy is long gone but certainly not forgotten. Just days ago after he announced his retirement, people began to question whether he deserved to be in the Hall of Fame on blogs and comment boards, and Sammy’s fans were quick to defend him. “He’s never been caught with anything or ever failed a drug test or mentioned in the Mitchel Report”. They were right at the time but I wonder how they feel now.
How do I feel? I’m not surprised but still a little disappointed. I wanted Sammy to be clean. He was a hero to us. We loved Sammy Sosa. Now where do we go from here? I’m not going to be like all the “big time” sports writers and condemn Sosa and the rest from my “moral high ground”. We’ve all done things in the past we’re not proud of. And those amazing Slammin’ Sammy Sosa years were so much fun to watch, especially since the team wasn’t really that good otherwise.
I’m just going to try and think of those happier times. I remember working at the time in the kitchen of a tavern back in 1998. When Sammy Sosa came to the plate that season, everything stopped. We would run from the kitchen up to the bar to watch his every at bat on the TV. Food would stop being served. The bartenders slowed their pace and worked with both eyes on the screen. Every person in the room would be watching Sammy. When he hit a home run, as he so often did, the place would erupt. Cheers, yelling and high fives all around. Smiles on everyone’s faces.
It truly felt like something special. No matter what happens, that’s something I’m going to always remember.
Sosa Is Said to Have Tested Positive in 2003 – New York Times
Sosa reportedly tested positive for PEDs – Cubs.com
Sosa news calls for special outrage – ESPN.com
Steroids And Sosa: What’s Next? – Bleed Cubbie Blue
Spotlight of shame finds Sammy Sosa – Chicago Tribune