sammy sosa kiss[Ed. – This is a guest post from BN’er Myles Phelps, a swell guy who writes about the Cubs from time to time (and you can find him on Twitter here). Myles wanted to share this idea with us, and it looked pretty fun/funny to me. This is the third part of his list, so drink in the first part if you haven’t already, and then chew on the second part.]

Well, here we are. The final chapter of the epic saga known as The Chicago Cubs Top Surprises and Scandals series. We’ve learned about early retirements, bad contracts and bribes galore! But what’s at number 1? What could possibly be the all-time surprise and/or scandal? Well before I tell you, here’s what it isn’t. Don’t get mad okay?

It isn’t the goat legend. Why? Because it’s overdone and you were, like, totally expecting it. Plus I’m sick of it. The Cubs haven’t won a World Series in over a hundred years because of poor management and bad baseball. Not because some dummy couldn’t bring his stupid goat into Wrigley. Also, curses don’t exist. Quit watching Ghosthunters. It’s fake.

The top surprise/scandal also isn’t the Bartman game. Why? Because again, it’s overdone and overhyped. It also wasn’t his fault. Let’s talk about the next play where the ball goes off Gonzalez’s glove at short. Or how about the fact that Cubs had another game? It was only Game 6. People never talk about the fact that Cubs had a 5-3 lead in Game 7 and blew it. Perhaps this could have been on the list. I know it’s controversy, but you already knew all of this. So let’s move past it.

So … what it is you ask? One word: Sosa.

No other Cub has been more polarizing. He was loved and revered. And then all of a sudden he wasn’t. What follows are five incidents, in no particular order. Hopefully this will prove my case of this man being atop my list.

1a. Sammy Corks it Up

On June 4, 2003 Slammin Sammy hits a routine ground ball to 2nd. His bat shattered, Sosa throws the remaining piece of his bat aside as he trots halfway down to first before being thrown out. As the game is about to continue, the homeplate umpire notices that there’s something weird in the remaining pieces of bat strewn about the field. The umpire crew gathers around and notices cork in Sosa’s bat. He’s thrown out of the game and is eventually suspended for 8 games.

Wait, what?

I remember this so vividly as a young buck. I didn’t get it – it was so confusing. Sosa was a god to me. I recall thinking three things: (1) Was he cheating? (2) Is corking a bat a “thing?” (3) Why the hell do I have so many pimples?

The aftermath wasn’t great for Sosa. Every retired baseball player ever came out of the woodwork to proclaim Sammy a cheater (they obviously had no idea what was in store later on, after Sosa was done playing).

His explanation of it being a “practice bat” sucked. His indifference to the whole situation sucked. And the fact that I had so many pimples sucked.

1b. Sammy Walks Out

In 2004, the Cubs played their final game at Wrigley that season. But Sosa wasn’t there.

The game not having started, a security camera caught Sammy leaving before the first pitch was even thrown (he would deny this fact and state that he left after the 3rd inning. Ugh. Liar). He’d never play another game in a Cubs uniform again. He was later traded in the off-season to Baltimore. Go Orioles!

Leading up to this, Sosa was beginning to wear out his welcome in Chicago, both with fans and teammates. He wasn’t hitting, he was getting freak injuries (seriously, he injured his back that season by sneezing), and someone smashed his boombox. He was on his way out.

But then he left in quite possibly the douchiest way imaginable. I know he couldn’t predict being traded. But he had to have a feeling. He never said goodbye to his teammates. He never said goodbye to his fans. He never said goodbye to Chicago. And that pisses me off.

1c. Sammy’s Skin

In the years following Sosa’s retirement, he inevitably fell away from the spotlight. He was never invited back to Wrigley and fans didn’t really care to have him. We were focused on better up-and-coming stars like Felix Pie! Or Matt Murton! (Sorry, I climbed aboard the sarcasm train for a second. Those guys weren’t stars. But Matt Murton did have a luscious head of red hair.)

In 2009, Sammy was spotted in pictures everywhere with … much lighter skin. Google it. It’s weird.

Rumors started coming from everywhere that Sosa was doing the Michael Jackson (RIP) thing and had started doing skin pigmentation.

Maybe he didn’t like the man in the mirror? Get it?

But it ended up not being the case as Sosa, indeed, looks as he once did. (In fact, he looks even better now.) He credits the skin change to a moisturizer that he had contemplated endorsing, which is just bizarre. I don’t know much about skin care, but I feel like if a lotion turns you into another race, it may be faulty.

1d. Sosa Tests Positive

Sosa and McGwire saved baseball. I don’t think that’s an opinion. I tend to think of that as fact.

Baseball was dying in the late 90’s. It was boring, there were few stars, the strike had come just a few years before, and the league office was out of touch with its fanbase. Then the home run race began, and everything started to change.

I remember going to the ballpark with friends and documenting which home runs I’d seen that season in 1998. It was exciting and people were into it. But then the cloud of steroid use came, and everything changed once more.

Sosa was never formally implicated until a story, published by the New York Times in 2009, linked him to testing positive for steroids in 2003. We all knew well before that time, I think.

I’m not sure if I care, though. He entertained all of us. I know others think differently (“integrity of the game,” and all, which I totally get). He broke a rule (probably), and he cheated. But damn, was it exciting.

1e. Sosa Wants in the Hall

The baseball Hall of Fame is guarded by a bunch of old school dudes. They like class. They like hard work. They like impressive numbers. And they hate steroids.

There’s been a lot of talk about what to do with those who tested positive for steroid use. Do they get into the Hall of Fame? Should they just get their own wing as we accept that baseball was different then? Do we just forget it and scrub the record books of their name?

Sosa doesn’t think so. Sosa wants in.

In an interview with ESPN back in 2009, Sosa was quoted as saying, “I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don’t I have the numbers to be inducted?”

Well, he’s got balls. I’ll give him that.

I can’t think of anyone who has been more defiant in his cheating.

Okay, maybe Roger Clemens. Oh, and Barry Bonds.

Fine, there are others who have gone above and beyond in trying to vindicate themselves. But I can’t recall any others saying so demonstratively that they deserve to be in the hall. I almost envy him for saying it.

Good for you, bud.

That’s it. We’re done. Maybe you agree with this list. Maybe you don’t. Maybe you were searching for something else on the interwebs and ended up landing here. And now you’re very confused about it. Regardless, I hope you enjoyed this series and found it humorous/entertaining.

What do you think I missed? Feel free to tweet me or hit up the comments.

Thanks to Brett and Bleacher Nation for putting this up.

  • ETS

    With respect to the “Practice Bat” – I believe they x-rayed all of sammy’s other bats (80 some bats in total) and none of his other bats were “corked”. Also, and maybe Doc will chime in, but I’m pretty sure corking gives you no power advantage.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      Watch the “Myth Busters” episode where they look at the baseball myths! They showed that corked bats actually absorb more of the baseball’s momentum, which means that the ball does not carry as well. They actually constructed a corked bat and a baseball cannon and measured the difference in velocity on balls leaving the bats after being hit by identical pitches.

      They also showed how a “rising fastball” is impossible without pitching on Jupiter. However, humidifying a baseball does decrease how far it carries (it’s basically like corking the bat in reverse), and sliding into bases when you cannot over them actually is faster than going in standing up. (I’m not sure why that was in question!)

      They probably should have done “balls don’t carry as well in humid air,” too: but that often gets cleared up when people accept that barometric pressure drops as humidity goes up.

      • DarthHater

        I haven’t seen that episode. I’ll have to look for it. Why do fastballs rise on Jupiter, but not elsewhere?

        • DocPeterWimsey

          whoops, I was vague and techinically incorrect. Basically, the type of atmospheric pressure you would need so that spinning a ball could create sufficient pressure differential to pull the ball upwards against gravity would require atmospheric pressure like you have on Jupiter. However, on Jupiter the gravity would be stronger, so it still wouldn’t work there. So, you’d need Jupiter’s atmosphere on Earth.

          In truth, a rising fastball is almost certainly a reverse-change of pace: the ball is faster than the batter thinks and thus does not fall as far as he expects it to fall, creating the illusion of rising.

          • hansman1982

            I think Harry Pav brought this up in one of the late January podcasts. Basically, the fastball doesn’t drop (due to the backspin) as much as the batter’s brain says that it should.

            Plus, wouldn’t placing Jupiter’s atmosphere on Earth, just cause most of it to be lost to space?

          • DarthHater

            Would Venus perhaps have the requisite combination of atmospheric pressure and gravity? Cubs Venusian Baseball Academy here we come!

      • Tommy

        I daresay Mythbusters is wrong, and here is why:

        • DarthHater

          “I daresay Mythbusters is wrong”

          Sacrilege! 😉

          • Tommy

            LOL! Well, I could be wrong – it’s happened before.

  • butlerdawgs

    No mention of the yellow sweater and Pinterest?

    • ETS

      It’s subtlety mentioned in a link….

  • DarthHater

    Good job, Myles. Thank you for doing this for us.

  • hansman1982

    Excellent articles!

    I think like you with the steroids: it happened, noone bothered to look to closely in 1998 about what was happening and now we are to believe that the sports writers and retired players are perfect angels?


    Just like lil’ Suzie Miller in high school who professed to be a pious and righteous angel, yet, on weekends she’d get drunk and high with the best of them and had a different guy on her arm every time.

    • DarthHater

      Still bitter that Suzie wouldn’t go to the prom with you? Time to let it go, man.

      • TWC

        Suzie Miller … smh!

      • hansman1982

        YES, THAT DAMN WHORE!!!! (Who is now married to the only man she has ever slept with or dated)

  • ETS


    • ETS
      • TWC

        Best. Comic Strip. Ever.

        (Well, at least since C&H bit the dust 17 years ago.)

        • Edwin

          I always liked the Perry Bible Fellowship.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Ah, but how long until one of the Sansa Starks brings up honor?

  • MichiganGoat

    Myles thank you not including us goats, we have spent years trying to erase that nasty legend.

    Thank you,

    Goat Nation – a subsidiary (bastard step-child (homeless beer bum)) of BleacherNation

    • DarthHater

      Please, spare us your politically correct pro-goat agenda. 😛

  • Evolution

    Nicely written.

    But, still love the little bastard…and, he loved us.

  • EQ76

    you forgot to mention when he suddenly “forgot” how to speak English when at the hearing with all the other ‘roiders.

  • Cub Fan Dan

    Thanks for the great articles, Myles!

    A possible addition for the next edition: 1F- Sosa Return

    As noted at the convention, Tom Ricketts was asked about bringing Sammy back to the organization by a fan at the Ricketts session & it was greeted by some applause & a few grunts. Tom kinda danced around it saying they might revisit that & it was an awkward situation. Its gonna be interesting what (if anything) comes of this in the next couple years.

  • OregonCubFan

    Great article. Not sure it would go above any of your twelve – though maybe – buy here’s a couple that might at least deserve consideration:
    – the Steve Stone, Chip Carey, Dusty Baker fiasco
    – the college of coaches in the early ’60’s

    • Myles

      Definitely like the Steve stone one. That’s an interesting story for sure.

  • http://Bleachernation Loyal100more

    Roid violaters past and present… HOF? You decide. Personally I say you cheat your out! Baseball should kick you out, but they give you a suspension and your back on the field. But I say if in any way doctor your numbers with PED’s you basically deciding to kiss any HOF chance away! Now as far as rejoining the organization? Big Mac handled himself in a fashion were I think the fans are alright with the guy moving forward. If you can’t cop to your wrong doings (palmero, Clemens, bonds) you are further stressing the integrity of the game that made you a star and a rich one at that. If you cant at minimum admit to the fans and the game that made you who you are, I say you stay gone! I got no Sosa love…why?… He broke my hardened cub fan heart and never said sorry!… He still thinks baseball and it’s fans owe him something… And that makes me unaccepting

  • DONNIE621

    Hey DarthHater… I notice you pen your thoughts multiple times on every story Brett posts… Get a life man!

    • DarthHater


  • Darian

    I recently read a book, “THe Eastern Stars: How Baseball changed the Town …” all about baseball (and the sugar business, and the politics, and racial identity, amongst other things) In the Dominican Republic – and after reading it, I realized that Sammy was in fact dying his skin white very much on purpose. It’s too long to get into in a single blog post response, but in a nutshell – You think the USA has some crazy racial politics and issues? The DR has us beat hands down – I mean, dictators of the country would wear pancake makeup in public, there is a substantial medical – cosmetic industry in the DR that is all about skin tone, it’s just totally f-ed up. ANd after reading it, I understood why Sammy dyes his skin. I have no idea why he is such as ass, but the book explained some things. A great read, check it out.

    • college_of_coaches

      Yes indeed. My sister and brother-in-law have strong connections to the DR, and I’ve heard similar things. BTW, my brother-in-law highly recommends the book “Sugar Ball,” by Allan Klein, which is also about baseball on the island. (I haven’t read it yet.) One of the things they pointed out to me is that the surname Pie is actually Haitian, it’s a form of Pierre (itself the French form of Peter). Yet I cannot recall any mentioned of this with regard to Felix Pie, and I think it is because playing baseball in the DR means being Dominican, not Haitian.

  • DONNIE621

    Care… No, you just don’t think..

  • Tommy

    Thanks for this 3 part article. I really enjoyed it!

  • @cubsfantroy

    I used to proudly wear Sammy’s Fila shoes.

  • indy0314

    Great list. I would include MLB giving home field advantage to the Padres because Wrigley did not have lights at the time. This of course was made for TV. The Cubs lost all 3 games in San Diego and Steve effing Garvey went to the Series. I still have nightmares…..

    • Luke

      Pretty sure this is a myth. In that era home field advantage in the NLCS alternated between the East and West Divisions, and in that year it was just the West’s turn.

      Someone ran an article within the past year debunking that myth; prior to that I also thought MLB had changed game locations to favor TV audiences. If I get a chance later I’ll try to look for the article and toss a link up in the Message Boards.

  • Kyle

    Correct. The next spring, 1985, the Cubs were warned that they might have to find an alternative venue or risk losing home games in the future. That sort of turned into an urban legend that they lost the games in 1984, but it was simply the West’s turn.

  • Lisa

    This piece sucks….Corked bat ? Really? How many HUNDREDS of bats shattered during Sammy’s at bats? And 1 has cork in it? Please..As to having the balls abut saying they belong in the HOF…and you don’t mention that piece of shit Pete Rose….are you kidding me? If Johnny Bench says no way…then I fully 100% believe you DON’T belong in the HOF. And please, don’t count Mark Grace’s opinion with the same weight as Johnny Bench’s. Mark, as much as I adore him, was probably drunk. And unless you are a Doctor, shut the H*** up about skin color….I have quite a few friend of color who’s skin tone has changed drastically through the years. The only thing you got right IMO is that 1998 was by far the most exciting year in baseball ever.PERIOD! I don’t need a bunch of fat old men who never played the game to tell me if Sammy belongs in the HOF…I know that he does…….just like I knew in the 1970’s that Ron Santo belonged. Sometimes people who vote just are douches …..

    ark Grace, as much as I adore him, was probably drunk!

    • DarthHater


    • Myles

      Easy now.

  • clark addison

    There was lots of juicing going on, pitchers as well as hitters, and probably still is with HGH. But only one (suspected) juicer hit 60 home runs three seasons.

    Bring Sammy back, Tom.

  • arta

    JMO…he knew it was wrong, he used it, he cheated. u only need one corked bat!

  • Nadia


    • Jp3

      Boooooooo!!!!! Why the link to random blog

  • l

    When I originally commented I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on whenever a comment is added I recieve
    4 emails with the exact same comment. There has to be a way you are able to remove me from that
    service? Cheers!

    • DarthHater

      Wow. Talk about new definitions of hell… 😛

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  • Jason

    Thanks. But Carrie Muskrat Blog would be most interested in frequent communication with you.