As we all know, this past week marked the 100th birthday for the greatest place on Earth.
Wrigley Field really is an amazing place. Sure it’s one of the oldest ballparks and has an aura unlike any other. But there’s so much more. People have fallen in love there. People have seen their first ball game ever there. People have had their first opportunity to pee in a trough there…
I attended the 100th anniversary festivities Wednesday and, for the most part, everything was extremely well done. From the free jerseys, to the cupcakes, to the pre-game celebrations in honoring former greats … the Cubs put on a good celebration. But something, or rather someone, was missing: Sammy Sosa.
Was his invitation lost? Or perhaps he had a wedding to attend? Or maybe even another ballpark birthday? No. He was, in fact, not invited.
Sammy’s absence was well documented in the media leading up to the celebration. However, most opinion pieces labeled his absence as a “snub.” But is this really the correct word? A “snub” would mean that Sammy should have been there in first place.
Sammy Sosa was a major part of this city for many years. There is no denying this. But there are three significant reasons why the Cubs were well within their right not to include him in Wrigley’s birthday.
1. Steroids: We all know the narrative when it comes to his involvement with steroids. He (allegedly) used them. He hit home runs. We cheered him. Then he got caught. And then he denied it. That’s on him. I’ve heard some say that we’re all a little bit at fault for enabling him and everyone else in that era.
That’s not true.
As fans, we don’t share in that blame. We were duped. Was it entertaining? Hell yes. But we were duped all the same. Sure, he helped revive baseball with his participation in the home run race. He did a lot to help Chicago baseball as well. But he cheated, and then he denied it and has expected us to accept it. Baseball still hasn’t healed over this. And last week was not the time to begin to make amends.
2. He left: I grew up idolizing Sosa. He essentially was the Cubs during his tenure here in Chicago. And then just like that … he wasn’t. In 2004 Sosa walked out on his teammates and his fans. He did this quite literally as he exited Wrigley in the last game of the year before the first pitch was even thrown. We never saw him again. Poof. He was gone. I do not forget this. And I have yet to forgive this.
3. Not the time nor the place: The week was about Wrigley and moments everyone has shared and watched together there. Sosa had his share of highlights during his time at the Friendly Confines. But, because of reasons 1 and 2, there is a bad taste left in all our mouths. Had Sammy been invited and then shown up, the celebration would cease to be about Wrigley. It would instead be a media firestorm about Sosa and the Cubs. The 100th birthday of Wrigley should supercede any one man. It simply wasn’t the time or place for a reconciliation to occur.
I do hope that one day the Cubs and Sammy can come together. I’d love to see his face around Wrigley. But right now, it’s Sammy vs Everyone. He still hasn’t apologized and the Cubs are in no hurry to bring him back. Sammy has to realize the hurt and disappointment he has caused his fans. I want so much to be able to cheer him and like him again. But his behavior since leaving the Cubs makes it difficult.
We’ll get there some day I hope. Just not last week.