Friday, June 19, 2009
Sammy Sosa Should Be Official Face of Steroid Era
When history looks back on the Steroid Era in baseball, most likely Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Alex Rodriguez will be the main topics of conversation.
To me, Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire deserve to be the faces of the Steroid Era. They are the perfect symbols for the embarrassment that the past 15 years or so has brought to a game that I like ... and used to love.
See, Bonds, Clemens and A-Rod all were on top of the world when their alleged steroid use began. They just wanted to stay there and reach bigger heights. McGwire and Sosa were looking at just resurrecting their moribund careers. Ones that have flamed out.
Yeah, McGwire passed Roger Maris first and hit the 70-mark before anyone else. And his "I touched Roger's bat with my heart" speech he gave sounds stupid now. All this came after a few years where Big Mac couldn't stay on the field and when he did, he couldn't hit the ball anywhere aside from the bleachers.
But Sosa deserves to be the one we remember this era by. Sosa hit just 37 home runs in his first four major league seasons. He then hit 33 jacks in 1993. He would hit 40 in 1996 and 36 in 1997. Then, somehow, he belted 66 in 1998. He would hit 63 the next season. His 64 home runs in 2001 made him the only player to hit 60 or more home runs in three different seasons.
Magically, this test that Sosa allegedly tested positive for, marked an interesting cliff for Sammy's stats. His home run total went to just 35 the season after the test. He would hit just 35 more home runs from 2005-2007 ... his last major league seasons.
But it isn't just the obvious boost to his numbers. It was the way that we all were sold on Sammy. Sosa was a lovable character that captured the nation. We all loved Sammy! The way he says things in broken English? Hilarious! The way he was always smiling? Loved it! Even the way he tried to explain his corked bat was a thing of beauty.
But all that is the reason Sosa is the face for roids. He ... just like baseball as a whole ... put on this show despite it all being fake. Sosa, like baseball, loved the attention. Sosa was now a star. Baseball, who was reeling from the PR nightmare of a cancelled World Series and who was watching the NBA and NFL gaining tons of fan attention, loved being the talk of the country. Just like a hot dog -- we all have a good time with them, we just don't need to know how they were made -- baseball wanted you to pay attention to the on the field miracles and not how this is suddenly happening.
When baseball was finally found out and were called to testify in front of Congress, Sosa, like baseball, decided to play dumb and act like nothing was going on. Sosa forgot how to speak English even though he had no problem with it when cameras were in his face.
Sosa, more than any other of the roided stars, was full of crap. They all denied using performance enhancers, but none acted like Sosa. If Sosa was indeed one of the 104 players who tested positive in 2003, why did he have his interpreter say that he has never taken roids? Why would he say two weeks ago that he is just waiting for the Hall of Fame to welcome him in with open arms?
Sosa has it all. He has A-Rod's lust for public attention. He has Bonds lust for getting to baseball's highest peaks. He has McGwire's ability to shrink in front of Congress. He has Palmeiro's ability to lie to our faces. He has Clemens ability to keep arguing even though everyone thinks you are lying. He is the face of steroids.
And of any of the superstars that were linked to roids, Sosa seems the only one who really became a superstar because of them. Sosa was a relative nobody who was thrust on the national scene in an instant. The rest of them just got caught up along the way.
Brought to you by the Sportz Assassin at 1:51 AM