After two seasons floating in the haze of baseball’s marginal steroid hangover, Sammy Sosa has now officially announced his retirement. I don’t know how bad Sammy really wanted to play these past couple of seasons, but apparently he’s over it now. Give him this much, even two years after his quiet banishment from the game, he’s managed to take more control of his retirement than Ricky Henderson or Brett Favre.
A few thoughts about Sammy and this ESPNDeportes story on his retirement:
1. I always liked Sammy Sosa, even after he hit a thousand homeruns in a season. So it makes me happy he didn’t try and kick around the Independent League or go to Japan to string his career along. I’m also glad he’s choosing not to talk about his own (seemingly obvious) PED use. I think silence, even ignoble silence more akin to pleading the 5th, is a better way to salvage one’s legacy than obnoxious and self-righteous denial.
That said, what he does say is some very odd stuff. In the story he’s quoted as stating the following:
The scandal on steroids and all those suspensions will not overshadow the game. Currently, there are many Latino players performing well [offensively]. There’s [Albert] Pujols, Carlos Pena; Nelson Cruz has 15. Then what? There’s someone else that already has 22 home runs [Adrian Gonzalez] … we have hit and will continue to hit homers in the major leagues.
It looks to me like he’s either trying to make himself a spokesman for the current crop of Latino superstars and therein achieve a kind of elevated veteran dignity, or tie himself into the clean cut innocence of guys like Pujols and Gonzalez and in doing so shift his primary associations away from the McGwires and Palmeiros of the world. Of course Latino players can hit home runs, so can white ones and black ones and Japanese ones. What does that have to do with steroid use?
2. The ESPN story on his retirement says that Sosa was known has the “Caribbean Bambino.” Has anybody ever heard this before? Google tells me no, nobody ever called him anything like that. Baseball Reference has his nicknames as the obvious “Slammin’ Sammy” and the moderately depressing “Say It Ain’t Sosa.”
3. Sammy currently serves the Dominican government as “special ambassador for investment opportunities.” I’m sure he is eminently qualified for this one. Somebody with more time ought to examine the endless parade of ex-big leaguers who go into Dominican politics. Do they really have an impact or is it just a status thing? Couldn’t be worse than Jim Bunning I guess.
4. I think Sosa is a Hall of Famer. Your thoughts?