Sammy Sosa Says He Had Dusty Baker's Permission to Leave His Final Cubs Game Early

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Sammy Sosa Says He Had Dusty Baker’s Permission to Leave His Final Cubs Game Early

Chicago Cubs

Every year or so, we hear from Sammy Sosa in one media outlet or another, adding context to his life with and without the Chicago Cubs. What happened. What came after. What he thinks now. What he still won’t say.

There was a great interview with Chuck Wasserstrom a few years ago. And another great one with Dave Kaplan a couple years ago. And another great one with Marc Carig this January. You get the sense from all that Sosa desperately wants his reputation restored, his career enshrined in Cooperstown, and his relationship with the Cubs resumed.

But, you know the but.

I have, for a long time, advocated on behalf of a swift homecoming for Sammy Sosa.

I know not everyone feels this way – and for understandable reasons – but Sosa played such an instrumental role in the origin of my Cubs’ fandom that I could never bring myself to join the chorus demanding a public apology first.

And by the way, as far as we know, an apology (or at least some similar version of public atonement) *is* what the Ricketts Family is looking for before Sosa would be welcomed back into the Cubs family. It’s been nearly 17 years since Sammy last put on a Cubs jersey, and I know I am not alone in wanting him back in our Cubs-related lives. And, yet, the two sides cannot simply work it out to make something happen. It’s frustrating, as each is responsible in some way for the continued fissure.

For his part, in these annual media conversations, Sosa continues to focus on peripheral issues where he feels like the sentiment is against him. Like his acrimonious departure from the team at the end of the 2004 season:

OK. I mean, I’m not really sure what this does 17 years later, even if Baker, himself, said yeah, that’s right. Forget for a moment that Sosa had previously said only that he asked an assistant trainer to go ask Baker if he could leave early. I think there’s really no changing the history on that one, no matter what Sosa says now. People have their memories cemented.

But the thing is, almost 17 years later … who cares? I really, truly, just do not care about his departure. Carlos Zambrano departed under very similar (or even worse!) circumstances, and he’s been back with the Cubs. He shows up on team fun lists. He can visit the team whenever. The departure just isn’t the issue.

The issue is PEDs.

Whether I agree or not that Sosa has to “come clean” or “apologize” or whatever, I do wish he would speak candidly about that era. It’s been about a decade since I actually solely blamed the players for what I would later realize and accept was an institutional problem with the sport. I don’t need him to say that he’s sorry he hit all those glorious dingers with the help of some juice (if he, indeed, did). I’d welcome him back regardless. But if the Ricketts Family is taking this position, then just, I don’t know, acknowledge SOMETHING about that era. Other players have done it, and other players have relationships with their teams and fans because of it. Sosa and the Cubs almost did it back in 2014. But it fell apart, and at every opportunity since, Sosa has stuck – with agonizing steadfastness – to the line that he “never tested positive.” Again, that’s not really the question, and it’s clearly not what the Ricketts Family is seeking. (The alternative, of course, would be the Ricketts Family just sucking it up and saying, fine, this guy is never going to have the candid conversation so let’s just move on.)

On these issues, Sosa didn’t really get into things, saying only that he wants to see the relationship begin again and leave the past in the past:

So … whatever. It’s useful to get whatever additional details we can from these annual interviews – I like reading them – but it’s frustrating that the relationship can’t be worked out because of what looks like unnecessary obstinance on both sides. I never thought I’d still be waiting to see Sammy Sosa run back out on the field at Wrigley.

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.