February 15, 2006

Slammin' Sammy likely to retire: Sosa rejects an offer from the Nationals. Agent says "we have likely seen him in uniform for the last time".

posted by chuy to baseball at 09:15 PM - 34 comments

Guess retirement is better then testing positive for 'roids or shrinking back down to normal size in front of the whole world. Might as well go out while you still have some people fooled. Bonds should take note.

posted by commander cody at 09:29 PM on February 15, 2006

I lost a lot of respect for Sosa after the corked bat incident. As far as the 'roids, he's never been caught -- but that was just a lucky break. That man is one shady character with a shitty attitude.

posted by wingnut4life at 09:46 PM on February 15, 2006

what a sad ending to a great baseball career. ever since the corked bat, walking out on his team on the last day of the season, and his incredible shrinkage over the last year or two, sosa's career fizzled out fast. 'roids or no 'roids he was one of the most exciting and charismatic individuals to play the game from the mid '90's to the early '00's. i really wish it would have ended differently for him. now the debate can begin if he should be in the hall of fame. i can't decide at this moment. i say yes because he was never implicated for any steroid use. but then my eyes tell me no just for the incredible increase in size and surge in power early in his career and the dramatic dropoff in production as soon as steroid testing was implemented.

posted by erkno11 at 10:01 PM on February 15, 2006

I feel your anguish, erkno, regarding both Sosa's sad decline and his Hall of Fame worthiness. On the latter matter, there are two issues, of course: do you think he SHOULD get in, and do you think he WILL get in. For myself, in fairness to Sosa, I want to wait a few years to make that first call -- when I can look at his whole career without so much weight being placed on what happened in the last two or three years. Unfortunately for Sammy, whether he juiced or not, he's got trouble with getting into the Hall. The timing of his peak power years coincides with the hottest period of suspected steroid use, and his multiple 60 homer seasons are likely to keep him lumped in with Bonds and McGwire as highly suspicious. I will say this -- if McGwire gets in, Sosa gets in. But the writers don't like to be made a fool of regarding this important duty, so don't be surprised if both get kept on the shelf for a few years until the steroid coast looks a little clearer.

posted by BullpenPro at 11:09 PM on February 15, 2006

I think you're right Bullpen. Even if he was legit it really won't matter when it comes to voting. Anyone putting up big numbers during those years is going to automatically be suspect no matter what.

posted by commander cody at 11:17 PM on February 15, 2006

I will say this -- if McGwire gets in, Sosa gets in. I think McGwire stands out from Sosa for a couple of reasons: 1) We are talking about a guy who had a career OPS+ of 163 over 16 seasons. It wasn't a 2 or 3 year peak that established this. He had 10 seasons with an OPS+ above 160. Sosa cannot come close to this claim. He has 5 seasons where he was a BELOW league average hitter. He only has 2 seasons where his OPS+ was higher than McGwire's career average OPS+. He's really not in the same class with the bat/eye. 2) McGwire was known as a power/HR hitter well before steroids were even suspected. 49 HR in his rookie season suggests that this power was always there. He'd been putting up huge slugging numbers before 1998, and it was simply a case of him having an injury-free season. Sosa, on the other hand, reached previously unheard of levels in 1998, especially considering he'd been a below-average hitter the previous year. I'm sure people would like to lump McGwire and Sosa in the same category, but McGwire (in my eyes) was already head-and-shoulders above Sosa, steroid accusations or not. Sosa's entry should be judged entirely separately from McGwire's. Anyone putting up big numbers during those years is going to automatically be suspect no matter what. Frank Thomas put up big numbers during those years, and I'd be surprised if anyone suspects him. Same with Ken Griffey Jr. That's the problem with using a wide brushstroke: you end up painting stuff you didn't want to (or shouldn't).

posted by grum@work at 11:44 PM on February 15, 2006

Okay, this is weird- I could have sworn I posted a comment to this thread earlier when it was just "Sammy rejects offer from the Nationals", and now I don't see it. What happened? Did that thread get deleted and replaced by this newer one? As for Sosa, he'll be facing the same criticism as McGwire, although with a couple of years leeway given that the steroid issue will probably be less hot-button by the time Sosa's up for a vote. It'll be hard to keep him out with his numbers, doping or no doping, but it is troubling for his chances that unlike McGwire- 49HR when he was a lean, college-aged free swinger- we've never seen a successful Sammy without the likely taint of whatever drugs were used. Thomas and Griffey should both be first ballot HOFers, and the sad part is they've both suffered by comparison to more enhanced athletes. Thomas and Griffey put up staggering numbers in their prime, equal to any player prior to Sosa, McGwire and Bonds. That people might look at their numbers when they're voting eligible more critically for not being as eye-popping as they might have been (but for a lack of a good workout routine to prevent these effectively career diminishing injuries, Griffey and not Bonds might currently be challenging Aaron's record) would be the saddest part of the whole doping issue. Thomas and especially Griffey were once revered as naturally gifted and staggeringly good hitters; Griffey was a career .300 hitter with as sweet a swing as could be found in all of baseball, a guy who could powder 56 HR in back to back years with clearly no "help" whatsoever besides hard work and his god-given talent. Thomas was the most feared hitter of his day, a guy who in his prime was putting up numbers that hadn't been seen since the likes of Williams or even Gehrig- walks and plate discipline combined with average and tremendous power- for a while he looked like he'd easily join that rarest of clubs, the career 1.000 OPS guys. It'll be hard for people who were spoiled by gaudy power numbers just a few years later to remember that Griffey and Thomas were worlds better than anyone else for several years in the early to mid 90's. They are what the HOF was about, and it'd be a shame if Sosa and his ilk made us forget that because they happened to play right around the time of a dramatic power change in baseball.

posted by hincandenza at 12:13 AM on February 16, 2006

I think McGwire stands out from Sosa for a couple of reasons: While these points are true. Mcguire no longer has a record... any record. Sammy Sosa remains the only player with three 60 home run seasons. That is going to look good a few years down the road. As far as scandal goes, Big Mac had his andro, and Sammy had his cork, the two cancel out. I think they probably both go the first year they are each up. Mcguire's refusal to deny taking steroids under oath might hurt him there, but I think its going to be a moot pooint when the time comes.

posted by everett at 01:22 AM on February 16, 2006

I know it's splitting hairs in some people's minds, but Andro was legal. Corked bats, to my knowledge, have never been legal. Could Big Mac be painted with the brush of suspicion that hit Sosa and Bonds? Sure. It's a question that baseball fans will always debate; it's not going to end with their respective HOF votes. In the meantime, don't confuse what was a legal supplement with using a corked bat. Of course, Sammy just used that in batting practice...ahem.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:41 AM on February 16, 2006

black hand...I couldn't agree more. It seems like everybody forgets that at the time andro was a legal supplement. It is hardly a knock on the guy that he was using a MLB sanctioned supplement. As for sammy, it is a bit odd that he never hit more than 40 hrs before '98. Not that 40 is bad, in fact it is quite good but in 97 he hit 36 in 162 games and in 98 he hit 66 in 159. Big Mac hit 50+ hrs three years in a row before he hit 70. In 97 he hit 58 during a season in which he was traded. What is a more believable increase.....12 or 30? If the legal andro thing never happened, this wouldn't be an issue.

posted by kjones00 at 05:31 AM on February 16, 2006

I'll always remember Sosa for forgetting how to speak english when he went in front of congress. Pretty convienent time to forget a language after doing countless commercials, interviews and press conferences.

posted by kellermcgee21 at 06:16 AM on February 16, 2006

After he was hit on the head with a fastball he went downhill. His head swelled up. He couldn't get a base hit with a man on second..he had to hit a homerun..needless to say, he struck out..again and again. He would hit a deep fly to center..do his little hop and almost get thrown out at second. He wouldn't bat 6th..because HE WAS SAMMY SOSA and that would be beneath him. He walked out of the last game of the season..maybe because he was getting booed. Fans got tired of him striking out with men in scoring position. He cried when he wasn't picked up in a limo in baltimore. The Hall? He would only go if his name was on the door.

posted by stickman at 06:29 AM on February 16, 2006

Some guys just don't know how to quietly fade away........ So Long Sammy.... Thanks but you should have been more of a Team Guy

posted by skydivedad at 07:14 AM on February 16, 2006

Pretty sad ending to what was once a very good story. However, Sammy has made over $125 million in baseball salary over his career (not including endorsements) and the fact that he seemed to be holding out for a better offer belies how little he actually understands about his current place in the game. I hope he's able to fondly remember '98 and the ride he and Big Mac took us all on, 'cause it was pretty much all downhill from there. His HoF status is very much in question.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:50 AM on February 16, 2006

Sam-MEEEEEE's focus has always been on 1 person. It was never about his team, never about winning, only on how "his" fans perceived him. A great showman maybe, but not as great a player as he imagines himself to be.

posted by Bury Bonds at 07:55 AM on February 16, 2006

Whether it's Sosa, Palmiero, whoever, if they are in the perceived "Steroid Ring," they are now expected to just fade into obscurity. Bonds will be tolerated at this point, only because he's big news and approaching the biggest record in baseball history. But that will obvioulsy come at a huge cost (and even bigger controversy) as it gets closer and closer. As for Sosa, the player, I'll always remember him for the love-hate relationship Cubs fans had with him over the years, as well as his muscular forehead.

posted by dyams at 08:28 AM on February 16, 2006

Of course Sammy, and McGwire, and probably Bonds will get in. They shouldn't, but they will. There are still reporters who are clamoring for Rose and even Shoeless Joe to be admitted, despite the fact they did something much worse against the integrity of the game. Five years from now you'll hear 'it doesn't matter, nothing was proven, look at the records." That's why I don't care about the HoF anymore.

posted by Jim Benton at 09:19 AM on February 16, 2006

I think McGwire stands out from Sosa for a couple of reasons: I also think McGwire is viewed as a better candidate than Sammy. What I meant by the comment was: if the writers forgive McGwire, then they are very likely to follow suit with Sosa -- but it may not happen as fast as everyone thinks. Standing alone, I don't think you can argue that Sosa's numbers make him a no-brainer when you take away all the other stuff. the steroid issue will probably be less hot-button by the time Sosa's up for a vote. It sure will be interesting to see how the media views the Sosa/McGwire era if a cleaned-up game brings baseball's overall power numbers back down to earth for an extended period. I don't think the corked bat or Sammy's late-career petulance are going to do any serious damage to his HOF chances, but the writers have some tough decisions to make regarding the steroid issue. They definitely don't want to put these guys in, then find that McGwire's son writes a book about how everytime you saw Dad and Sosa hugging they were slipping vials into each other's pockets. Thomas and Griffey should both be first ballot HOFers Griffey: in. Thomas: tougher call. Some Mattingly syndrome, but he's clearly better. He almost certainly gets in, but his first ballot results will be effected by who he chooses to retire with. In 2006 (Sutter) he's a first ballot. In 1999 (Brett, Yount, Ryan) or even 2007 (Ripken, Gwynn, McGwire) they might make him wait a year or two. That's why I don't care about the HoF anymore. I'm not quite sure I understand where you're coming from, Jim. What has the Hall done wrong? Sure, there are vocal segments out there clamoring for Rose and Shoeless Joe, but the Hall continues to steadfastly refuse to put them on the ballot. And, I will tell you, if Rose becomes eligible but he is cast to the Veterans Committee (a group made up primarily of living Hall of Famers) there is no way in the world he is going to be voted in. They haven't even cast a vote for anyone in the steroid era yet. Where has the Hall let you down?

posted by BullpenPro at 10:10 AM on February 16, 2006

The Hall of Fame is such a joke now that I really don't care whether McGwire, Sosa, Bonds, Palmiero, et al. get in or not. I take comfort in the fact that juicers like these guys will have to live the rest of their lives with testicles that are probably no bigger than BBs. Steroids do that to you, you know.

posted by jm_mosier at 10:12 AM on February 16, 2006

It's pretty sad that someone who meant so much to so many baseball fans a few years ago has put himself in a position where only one MLB team is willing to give him a chance to play. It shows that self-centered stars with huge egos are beloved only as long as they are producing at peak levels. When their numbers come back down to earth, as a result of cleaning up or natural aging, fans have very little patience for them. Frank Thomas just left the White Sox and I don't think anyone will miss him, just as no one will miss Sosa.

posted by ChiSox1977 at 10:50 AM on February 16, 2006

His stats indicate that he retired 2 years ago.

posted by directpressure at 11:25 AM on February 16, 2006

MUSCULAR FOREHEAD!! That's freakin' hilarious! Nice one dyams.

posted by Desert Dog at 11:35 AM on February 16, 2006

Frank Thomas just left the White Sox and I don't think anyone will miss him, just as no one will miss Sosa. Wow. Thomas carries the White Sox on his shoulders for 10 years, becomes the best hitter in the franchise's long history, fails to contribute in the past couple of years only because of debilitating injuries, and no one will miss him? Those are some loyal fans.

posted by grum@work at 11:53 AM on February 16, 2006

Well it is Chicago, grum. (Since moving here I have been absolutely amazed by the horrible caliber of fans city-wide. Sox fans are generally the best though. I blame the media. The columnists in the two papers blow everything out of proportion, so you get these huge mood swings and overreactions to everything.) Anyway, I'll come play health/fitness/steroid devil's advocate here again and clear up two mistruths: 1) you don't automatically lose your size and strength when you stop taking steroids, so Sosa would not necessarily whither before our eyes... Steroids make it so that you can make gains more quickly, but you're not required to stay on them to keep them. You can finish a cycle, get back to normal inside, and keep gaining... just not as quickly. 2) Unless they're completely retarded, they'd cycle the steroids and use post cycle therapy to re-establish the natural testosterone production, which would also fix the testes. Ball shrinkage is temporary except in cases of abuse. That's all. Not disputing the fact that they used them, not for a second. Just saying.

posted by Bernreuther at 12:20 PM on February 16, 2006

The columnists in the two papers blow everything out of proportion, so you get these huge mood swings and overreactions to everything. You moved to Boston?

posted by jerseygirl at 12:49 PM on February 16, 2006

The columnists in the two papers blow everything out of proportion, so you get these huge mood swings and overreactions to everything. Note to self: don't move to Chicago. I'd hate to be exposed to that kind of media. clear up two mistruths Thanks for that, Bernreuther. Especially the first point -- I think the Giambi situation has brought a confused view on "steroid recovery" and it's effect on the body -- Giambi probably shrunk more because of the parasites and the tumor than from the steroids, but people want to make that connection anyway. Actually, I could have done without the second point. I'm just glad I'm not the guy who did the tests to see if that's true.

posted by BullpenPro at 12:53 PM on February 16, 2006

Thomas carries the White Sox on his shoulders for 10 years, becomes the best hitter in the franchise's long history, fails to contribute in the past couple of years only because of debilitating injuries, and no one will miss him? grum, that's the point I'm making. While you couldn't ask for a better guy to come to the plate with the game on the line, Thomas' personality prevented fans from really liking Frank, the human being. Frank the hitter was awesome. Frank the person came off as self-centered and often childish. He didn't have a team focus and was often a negative influence in the clubhouse, as Ozzie Guillen has not be shy about stating. I don't think that reflects poorly on Sox fans - I think you have to work pretty hard to have big numbers and blow it with the fans, and Thomas and Sosa have done just that. Just because Thomas never really clicked with the fans doesn't make Sox fans disloyal - it just means we never really liked Thomas' approach to the game. Sox fans are loyal to players who play the game with heart. Carlton Fisk, Robin Ventura, and Ozzie Guillen are three relatively recent players who didn't put up numbers like Thomas but won the hearts of the fans by playing hard and doing whatever it took to win - they were missed when they left the club for more than their numbers. Frank will be missed for his numbers only.

posted by ChiSox1977 at 12:55 PM on February 16, 2006

I must say that as a big Sox fan, I will miss seeing Thomas come to the plate. He was incredible. I hope he does well in Oakland (unless he is playing the Sox).

posted by VandySoxFan at 01:01 PM on February 16, 2006

JG, it's different in Chicago. This is the city where the loss of Rex Grossman, yes, Rex Grossman, who was never at any point even remotely good, has the entire city hanging its head and saying they're doomed, and then 3 weeks later there are headlines running comparing them to the 85 Bears and thinking Super Bowl. Seriously, they had the damn Lombardi Trophy as the cover photo. This was early in the year. It's not really something I can explain, it's just really weird. Then you have Cub fans... BPPro, the interesting thing about Giambi, and I have said this here before, is that when he reported for camp before last season noticeably slimmer, but weighing only 4 pounds less, everyone immediately started saying "oh, he must be off the roids", but in truth, if he truly was only 4lbs less, that'd be more of an argument for him being on them at the time than being off them. (My personal belief is that he was being honest about his weight at the time, but his starting weight was surely higher than what he was listed at) There's a picture out there of Giambi in Vegas recently, and he's clearly not affected by parasites anymore... he's downright hefty (and sporting hair much too long for the Yankee dress code). Which is pretty strong proof that these guys don't necessarily need steroids to get big... after all, they can afford the best trainers, supps, and food, and all they have to do for months is work out and sleep. Not that steroids don't make it even easier...

posted by Bernreuther at 01:56 PM on February 16, 2006

I lost a lot of respect for McGwire with his cowardly "I'm not here to discuss the past" Senate testimony.

posted by kirkaracha at 02:18 PM on February 16, 2006

He didn't have a team focus and was often a negative influence in the clubhouse, as Ozzie Guillen has not be shy about stating. See, that's the problem I have. The negative reputation for Thomas seems to be tied to Ozzie becoming the manager and bad-mouthing him to the press. Now, maybe he is a bad influence in the dugout in Ozzie's eyes, but O.G. also has a habit of shooting his mouth off for the press to hear. I don't remember previous managers bad-mouthing Thomas during his heydays. Editor's note: grum@work has previously stated a dislike for Ozzie Guillen (managerial style), and therefore his statements about him may be tainted.

posted by grum@work at 02:55 PM on February 16, 2006

I agree that Ozzie has a habit of running his mouth, but there are other reports of Thomas being really selfish and not the nice smiley fellow he appears, both in print and from people I know who have met/interviewed/dealt with him. In fact, come to think of it I've never really heard anything good about him. That said, it's been easy for a lot of people, myself included, to forget just how good he (and also Bagwell) was. He's clearly deserving.

posted by Bernreuther at 03:19 PM on February 16, 2006

As far as the congress hearing goes sosa was worse, by claiming not to be able to speak english

posted by chuy at 10:02 PM on February 16, 2006

Every one at that hearing made a mockery of the proceedings. McGwire's refusal to talk, Palmeiro saying he has never taken steroids then months later getting suspended for a test he took before the hearing, and last but certainly not least, Sosa acting like he didn't speak english even though everyone in America knows he can. McGwire at least was honest (may not have been what people wanted to hear). All in all, who gives a shit. I say they all get juiced and go hit a bunch of dingers while I sit back and drink beer. I love it.

posted by kjones00 at 03:31 AM on February 17, 2006

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