Results tagged ‘ Sammy Sosa ’

10/9 Sosa: Bring me back to Wrigley

Sammy Sosa hopes the Cubs will retire his No. 21 and he can return to Wrigley Field.

“I hope one day, we can come to the conclusion we can be friends again and they definitely can bring me back to Wrigley Field,” Sosa told WGN Radio in an interview Tuesday night.

Junior Lake wore No. 21 last season with the Cubs, and Sosa said he expects the young outfielder to “perform very well because it’s a responsible number.”

In 2003, Moises Alou and Aramis Ramirez had each booked flights home after losing Game 6 of the National League Championship Series because they did not think the Cubs would win the seventh game against the Marlins. Alou and Ramirez were correct but Sosa was miffed. Sosa said it took two months to recover after losing the NLCS.

“I can’t believe that happened to us,” he said.

Sosa left Wrigley before the final game of 2004 ended, but he said manager Dusty Baker gave him permission to do so.

“I don’t feel guilty,” Sosa said. “I go early that day, and they said, ‘Yes, go ahead,’ but they were looking for someone to blame. Right now, I’m paying the price. It’s something we can resolve that just to have a conversation. That was the only thing was leaving the park. They think I made that decision on my own. I’ve always been disciplined when it comes to the game and respect people.”

1/19 Cubs notebook

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team may revisit the issue of whether to invite Sammy Sosa back. Sosa has not returned since he walked out after the 2004 season.

“With Sammy, it’s awkward,” Ricketts said Saturday. “I think over time, there’ll be a good solution for all this stuff, but obviously I think you saw what happened to the Hall of Fame voting this year. I don’t know. It would be nice to put this chapter to rest and just welcome back all the guys who were from that era that people suspected of doing whatever.”

There has not been much communication between the Cubs and Sosa since he left.

* Cubs manager Dale Sveum and hitting coach James Rowson were happy Brett Jackson accepted the drastic changes they suggested to the young outfielder’s swing during a workout in November in Mesa, Ariz. Jackson was promoted to the big leagues Aug. 5 despite leading the Pacific Coast League with 158 strikeouts. He batted .175 in 44 games with the Cubs.

Sveum said it may benefit Jackson that he hit “rock bottom.” The outfielder, who was the Cubs’ first-round pick in 2009, has been hitting more this offseason than in the past. He was still expected to open at Triple-A Iowa.

* The Cubs have the second pick overall in the June First-Year Player Draft, and even though there is a need for more pitching in the organization, they could chose a position player. Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, said usually the best bets at the top of the Draft are position players.

“We will not neglect pitching in the Draft but we’ll take the best player available,” Epstein said.

* Tony Campana is very popular with Cubs fans. One fan asked Sveum why the speedy Campana couldn’t get a spot in the starting outfield. Sveum said Campana is fighting for one of the backup outfield spots, and that he has a hard time getting on base consistently. Expect Dave Sappelt to be one of the backup outfielders.

* Broadcaster Len Kasper said new assistant hitting coach Rob Deer was just like Adam Dunn in terms of high strikeouts, high on-base percentage. That was meant to be a complement. Deer said his philosophy as a hitting coach is: “Do as I say, not as I did.”

* Sveum said he wants coaches who aren’t afraid to say anything to the players. His philosophy? “Don’t ever think these guys know everything,” Sveum said.

* There are often unusual questions during Cubs Convention seminars and Saturday was no exception. One fan complained that the players weren’t paid enough to afford a haircut, and said Sveum looked as if he “sleeps on a park bench.” A youngster asked Epstein to promise he could get a Major League contract once he reaches 18. Epstein said yes.

A father from San Francisco asked Ricketts what he should tell his 8-year-old son, who is teased for wearing Cubs gear.

“I really believe we have the smartest guys in baseball building a championship team and it just takes time,” Ricketts said. “Your son’s 8; he’s got lots of time.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/9 Sosa: “It’s an honor” to be on HOF ballot

Sammy Sosa said it was a “great honor” to be included on the baseball Hall of Fame ballot, and adds that even though he wasn’t elected on Wednesday, “there is always a next time.”

For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not elect anyone into the Hall of Fame. Sosa, the former Cubs slugger who belted 609 home runs in his career, received 71 votes (12.5 percent). A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible BBWAA members to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio was the highest vote-getter in the results announced Wednesday, receiving 388 votes (68.2 percent). Former Cubs closer Lee Smith received 272 votes (47.8 percent).

“It has been a moment of great honor for me to have my name on the ballot for the first time along with some of the game’s greats,” Sosa said in a statement released Wednesday. “Even if we weren’t inducted on our first time, we are still winners and there is always a next time. God has blessed me with a beautiful family, great career, and I know He will determine my future in the years to come. Baseball has been very, very good to me. Kiss to the heavens.”

Sosa did receive enough votes to be included on next year’s Hall of Fame ballot. This was the eighth time the BBWAA did not elect someone into Cooperstown since the voting began in 1936.

– Carrie Muskat

1/9 Sosa receives 12.5 percent in HOF vote

Sammy Sosa was in his Miami office on Wednesday, working on his new business ventures. For him, it was a normal work day on a day that was anything but normal for baseball’s Hall of Fame. For the first time since 1996, the Baseball Writers Association of America did not elect anyone into the Hall of Fame. Sosa, the former Cubs slugger who belted 609 home runs in his career, received 71 votes (12.5 percent). A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible BBWAA members to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Craig Biggio was the highest vote-getter in the results announced Wednesday, receiving 388 votes (68.2 percent). Former Cubs closer Lee Smith received 272 votes (47.8 percent).

“There was just too much controversy, in my mind, and it hurt guys like Biggio,” Hall of Famer Billy Williams said of the balloting. “[Biggio] had the numbers — you talk about 3,000 hits.”

The controversy revolved around players suspected of using performance enhancing drugs. According to a New York Times story in June 2009, Sosa allegedly was among 104 Major League players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003. Sosa never was found guilty by an official MLB entity.

“I’m like everybody else — you don’t know enough about it,” said Williams, 74, who was inducted into the Hall in 1987. “We, as outsiders, don’t know. We can only look at the numbers they put up. I was just telling [my wife] Shirley, and remembering that they talked about the people who were on steroids [in the New York Times report], that there were 103 people. We don’t know who was on that list. We don’t know who the 103 were. There’s not enough information to say ‘yay’ or ‘nay.'”

Williams said he would not want any player who did take steroids to be elected to Cooperstown.

“If he took steroids to make himself a better ballplayer, he altered himself as a ballplayer by taking drugs like that,” Williams said. “If he did this, and I was thinking to myself, if a guy did this on a Major League level, and hit home runs, not only did he hurt the Major Leagues but he hurt baseball. There’s hitting and running and stealing bases that make you a baseball player and that makes the game good.

“Eventually, some of these guys will go in [the Hall] when it dies down a little bit,” Williams said. “I think there was too much controversy with this election. Look at Lee Smith. Here’s a guy who was the all-time saves leader for a long time and he’s getting 50, 55 [percent of the] votes every year. He led the league in saves for a long time.”

Williams will be at the ceremony in Cooperstown on July 28. He doesn’t expect the heated and lengthy debate over the Hall of Fame ballot next year because of the players who will be eligible.

“[Tom] Glavine and [Greg] Maddux will overshadow the steroid talk,” Williams said. “You’ve got some great players coming up next year — Frank Thomas, too. We’ll see.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/7 Sosa waits for HOF results

The Sammy Sosa Inspiration Field and Cubs Care Park, which was unveiled in September 2002 at the New City YMCA in Chicago, is gone. It was demolished for a proposed retail complex. Sosa’s No. 21 has been handed out to Cubs players such as Jason Marquis, Milton Bradley, Tyler Colvin and Joe Mather.

But Sammy hasn’t been forgotten. On Wednesday, Sosa will find out if he will be elected into the Hall of Fame. This is the first year he’s on the ballot. What’s he been up to since his last at-bat in September 2007?

He welcomed his fifth child, a daughter, in December 2011. He’s become involved in business ventures, including Riverhead Homes, which provides steel-framed houses built to withstand natural disasters. Riverhead is attempting to develop a residential community in Jamaica and Haiti.

Last year, Sosa took another step in his effort to make a difference. He expanded his business interests and became chief executive officer of INJEX, which has created a needle-free drug delivery system designed to help people afraid of needles who must subject themselves to daily self-injections, such as diabetics. His motivation to get involved was personal: Sosa worked at a hospital in the Dominican Republic when he was young and remembers getting poked by used needles in the garbage. He also put off seeing a dentist because of his fear of needles. Dentists now can treat their patients and ease that fear by using the needle-free device. A Miami dentist is using INJEX and getting good reviews from his patients.

A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote from eligible Baseball Writers’ Association of America members to gain election to the Hall of Fame. Shortstop Barry Larkin (86.4 percent) earned his ticket to Cooperstown on the 2012 ballot. Starting pitcher Jack Morris (66.7 percent) and first baseman Jeff Bagwell (56 percent) are the top returning vote-getters from last year’s ballot.

Sosa finished his career with 609 home runs, and is the only player with three seasons of at least 60 homers each.

– Carrie Muskat

11/28 Hall of Fame decisions

The Hall of Fame releases the 2013 ballot at 11 a.m. CT today, and it should prompt some interesting discussions. Sammy Sosa is one of the players on the ballot for the first time. In 18 seasons, Sosa hit more than 600 home runs. He’s the only player with three 60-homer seasons, hitting 66 in 1998, 64 in 2001, and 63 in 1999. He’s one of two National League players to reach 160 RBIs in a single season, which he did in 2001. The other was another Cubs player, Hack Wilson, who holds the single-season mark of 191 set in 1930.  He was a seven-time All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger winner. He won the Roberto Clemente Award in 1998 and the Hank Aaron Award in 1999. He hit more home runs (479) than anyone for any 10-year period. He’s the only player in NL history to have six consecutive seasons of 40 home runs. He is the Cubs’ all-time home run leader (545), passing Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Ron Santo.

But Sosa’s career also has other elements for Hall of Fame voters to consider. According to a NY Times story in June 2009, he was allegedly among 104 Major League players who tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003. Sosa was never found guilty by an official MLB party. In 2005, he joined McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, and Jose Canseco at a hearing before Congress regarding drug use in baseball. Sosa’s attorney testified on his behalf, saying the slugger had never taken illegal performance enhancing drugs.

The Hall of Fame ballot states: “Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.” That’s it. Do the members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who vote for the HOF, exclude players who did not test positive but are perceived to have taken drugs? We can all agree that taking steroids or other performance enhancing drugs is cheating. But the Hall of Fame is dedicated to preserving baseball history.

“I think you have to judge people for the era they were in,” said former Cubs GM Jim Hendry in 2005. “Unless all the facts are in, speculation is a waste of time. You’ll never be able to go back and figure out who did what for sure. I’m not condoning it at all. As long as there is competitive athletics and people can get away with things, they’ll try to get a competitive edge.”

Where do you stand? Should Sammy Sosa be voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame?

– Carrie Muskat 

9/5 Soriano’s stellar stats

Alfonso Soriano is one of six players in Major League history to reach at least 350 home runs, 400 doubles, 250 stolen bases, 1,000 RBIs and 1,000 runs scored. He joinsWillie Mays, Andre Dawson, Gary Sheffield, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez. Now in his sixth season with the Cubs, Soriano has joined Dawson as the only two players in Cubs history to reach 20 home runs in each of his first six seasons with the club. Soriano’s 158 Cubs home runs already rank 13th on the team all-time.

With 27 games still to play this season, Soriano enters Wednesday’s game with 26 home runs and 88 RBIs in 2012, identical numbers to his 2011 season-ending totals. The 88 RBIs each of his last two seasons represent his highest single-season totals with the Cubs. Soriano’s average of one home run per 18.63 at bats with the Cubs is the sixth-best mark in franchise history (minimum 100 home runs), trailing only Sammy Sosa, Hank Sauer, Hack Wilson, Aramis Ramirez and Ernie Banks.

– Carrie Muskat

 

 

5/17 Cubs vs. White Sox

Interleague play and bragging rights in the city are on the line Friday when the Cubs start their home-road, six-game series against the White Sox at Wrigley Field.

* Pitching matchups:

Friday: Philip Humber (1-2, 5.77 ERA) vs. Jeff Samardzija (4-1, 2.89 ERA)

Saturday: John Danks (2-4, 6.46 ERA) vs. Ryan Dempster (0-1, 1.74 ERA)

Sunday: Jake Peavy (4-1, 2.65 ERA) vs. Paul Maholm (4-2, 4.35 ERA)

* Cubs record vs. White Sox: 39-45

At Wrigley Field: 22-20

At Comiskey Park/U.S. Cellular Field: 17-25

Last Cubs three-game sweep: June 20-22, 2008, at Wrigley Field

* Crosstown series batting leaders (minimum 60 at-bats):

Average: Mark Grace, .350

Hits: Sammy Sosa, 45

Home runs: Aramis Ramirez, 13

RBIs: Sosa, 39

Pitching leaders (minimum 25 innings pitched)

ERA: Mark Prior, 2.88

Wins: Carlos Zambrano, six

Saves: Ryan Dempster, Bob Howry & Carlos Marmol, three each

Strikeouts: Zambrano, 71

* A total of 168 players have appeared in at least one Major League game for both the Cubs and White Sox, from David Aardsma to Dutch Zwilling.

* The two teams have made 22 trades, the last coming Nov. 16, 2006, when Neal Cotts was acquired from the White Sox in exchange for David Aardsma and Carlos Vasquez

* Sixteen players have seen action for both the Cubs and White Sox in the same season, the last being Josh Paul in 2003

* Steve Renko (1977) and Matt Karchner (1998) recorded victories for both teams in the same season. No player has homered for both teams in the same year.

* The only person to ever manage both teams was Johnny Evers, who skippered the Cubs in 1913 and 1921, and the White Sox in 1924

* White Sox manager Robin Ventura has a .286 average in three games, going 4-for-14

– Carrie Muskat

9/23 A walk in the park

Carlos Pena drew two walks Friday, and now has 96 for the season, a modern day record for Cubs’ first basemen. The old mark was 95, set by Mark Grace in 2000. Since 2001, only Sammy Sosa has more walks in a single-season for the cubs. He drew 116 walks in 2001 and 103 in 2002.

– Carrie Muskat

8/17 Sosa: Retiring is “a different ballgame”

Sammy Sosa knows all about life after baseball, and planned on reaching out to Carlos Zambrano to remind him that once you retire, “it’s a different ballgame.” Sosa, 42, who played 18 seasons in the Major Leagues, including 1992-2004 with the Cubs, said Wednesday he planned on calling Zambrano, who is currently on the disqualified list. Zambrano served up five home runs to the Braves last Friday in Atlanta, was ejected from the game after hitting Chipper Jones, and then packed his gear in his locker and said he was retiring.

On Monday, Zambrano changed his story and said he wanted to stay with the Cubs, saying his comments about retirement were made in “a moment of frustration.” The team placed him on the disqualified list, used when players violate the terms of their contract or of the collective bargaining agreement. Sosa also had an early exit from the Cubs. On Oct. 3, 2004, he left the last regular season game early and without permission, and was subsequently fined by Cubs GM Jim Hendry.

Sosa didn’t retire, though, and was traded to the Orioles. He played one season with Baltimore and another with Texas in 2007 before retiring. Sosa now lives in Miami and the Dominican Republic, and said he prepared for life after baseball.

“Players think that when they sign a contract, everything is easy,” Sosa said Wednesday. “When you retire and you try to do something besides baseball, it’s not easy. It’s tough. When you think everything is going to be the same and so easy as when you played baseball, it’s not that way anymore. I want to make sure [players] understand that. I want to speak to a lot of players. I want to tell them to save their money.

“I see a lot of players make all their money in baseball and when they retire it’s a mess,” he said. “They surround themselves with some bad people. There’s so many bad people outside waiting to get their money.

“That reaction [on Friday] cost [Zambrano] $3 million,” Sosa said. “Maybe he doesn’t need it now, but later on he will. That’s money he worked hard for all his life.”

Sosa now has other businesses, including oil companies and housing projects. He also operates a baseball academy in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic and the Cubs have signed two players from there.

He’s excited about a nephew, a right-handed hitting outfielder, whom Sosa said has “more potential than I had.”

“He can fly — he’s amazing,” Sosa said proudly of his brother’s son. “What a talent. Another Sosa.”

Whether the youngster has the potential to hit 60 homers or win a National League MVP award, which his uncle did, remains to be seen. The youth is only 16 years old.

Until then, Sosa will act as mentor, and try to do the same for Zambrano and others thinking about leaving the game.

“All my friends retire, and if they didn’t take care of their money, they go back to being a coach,” Sosa said. “It seems to me if they don’t know how to do anything else, they become a coach. They have to plan for their future and career after baseball.

“When you retire, it’s a different ballgame,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

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