On Tuesday, June 16 the New York Times reported that Sammy Sosa was one of the 104 players to test positive for steroids in 2003. The news had many people in a stir, but really, what did everyone expect? With every other super slugger of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, such as Bonds, McGwire, and Palmeiro testing positive for steroids, who would think that Sosa would be any different?
The first clue might be in Sosa’s weight difference over the years; Sammy weighed 190 lbs. in 1992 and a monstrous 220 lbs. in 2002. Then, the obvious statistic to look at would be his home run count, which shot up from 36 in 1997, to an unprecedented 66 in 1998. ’98 was the first of his six consecutive 40+ home run seasons (three were over 60). Something tells me there might be a correlation between the two. The clincher for Sammy should have came in 2003 when he watched his dignity spill out of his bat in a game against the Devil Rays. Somehow though, it has taken until now to question whether he is a hall of fame player. Unfortunately for fans, Sammy was no less an impostor than his juiced-up opponent, Mark McGwire, and may be even more so. Sosa is just another on the long list of players whom young baseball players of today should not look up to for inspiration, and people should not be surprised at the information that has just been released.
The summer of ’98 changed the way a lot of people looked at baseball. Some accepted the change, as the entertainment of home runs was enough to overlook what the players were doing off the field. Others, like myself, still view Roger Maris and Hank Aaron as our home run king. Baseball from the good old days was inspiring. Players then could do things which players today could only dream of doing without smaller parks, softer balls, and drugs. There is never any controversy over Ted Williams’ .406 season or Willie Mays’ 20 All-Star seasons. There is never any arguing that Aaron hit 755 honest home runs in his lifetime, and Maris hit 61 in 1961. These feats were respectable and made baseball much more exciting to watch.
It is hard to tell when all the steroid controversies will end, but until they do, baseball at the turn of the 21st century will never be as great as ball at the turn of the 20th. Sammy Sosa will never be forgotten, but just as with so many of his contemporaries, neither will the asterisks and questions that go with him.
“Sammy Sosa (Steroids, corked cork bat, baseball attendance).” Citizine
“Sammy Sosa News.” The New York Times
“Sammy Sosa Statistics and History.” Baseball-Reference.com
“Sosa ejected for using corked bat.” SI.com