By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) It’s almost 4,000 miles from Wrigley Field to Piccadilly Circle, but this morning, via email, I asked my transplanted Cubs fan buddy currently living across the pond in London if he would like to see Sammy Sosa make a return to Wrigley Field.
My friend’s answer was “No,” before adding, “But I don’t know if I want to return to Wrigley Field!”
I laughed when reading that. But with the Cubs closing in on 100 losses and next year’s team looking to be just as bad – honestly, who’s going to pitch? – I can’t blame my friend. Heck, I live just six blocks from Wrigley, and I’m not itching to get back inside the ballpark any time soon myself.
In the case of Sosa, however, whatever cabana it is that he’s lounging at these days – while probably sipping a cool drink and treating his skin with who knows what – it’s surely a much shorter trip up to Wrigley Field than it is from London.
But, like my friend, I don’t want to see Sosa make his return, either.
Kerry Wood, however, feels differently. This past Sunday while speaking at the Friendly Confines during his own Appreciation Day, the recent retiree urged the Cubs to get the old gang back together. Wood said he wants the team to bring the likes of Mark Grace, Greg Maddux, Ryne Sandberg and Sosa back into the fold.
“(They) did tremendous things for this town and this organization,” Wood explained, “but it’s a new group of people here, it’s new ownership, new everything. It’s a new attitude.
“It would be a shame to not have those guys. Sammy and Mark McGwire pretty much singlehandedly brought the game back by themselves (in 1998). Sammy did tremendous things for the city. We all know how he left and how it ended with him. But ultimately that one mistake he made at the end shouldn’t determine his future here in Chicago.”
The Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom commented on Monday about Sammy, “Wood’s right. That one mistake shouldn’t determine his future in Chicago. No, all the mistakes Sosa made in being exposed as a fraud should determine his future in Chicago, and that future should be non-existent.”
Rosenbloom then went on to detail all the ways that Sosa would be a detriment to the Cubs’ clubhouse – you know, teaching young players to be a lousy teammate, how to cork bats, the best way to juice biceps and whatnot.
But what I’m more interested in is whether Cubs fans – not merely Cubs players and brass – would really want to see Sammy Sosa back blowing kisses from the Wrigley Field turf.
Think their answer would most likely be “Kiss off.”
As a general rule, I’d say that you shouldn’t bring back a player for an Appreciation Day who’s almost certain to be showered with boos the moment he steps on the field. A Sosa return would be a disaster in the making – and no way for the Cubs to show appreciation to a fan base that’s already burned out on bad baseball.
As for Sosa, who gave me the most enjoyable summer of my life with the Great Home Run Race of 1998, I now have nothing but bad memories about the guy. The nation was indeed naïve back in ’98, but I feel like Sosa and McGwire stole our innocence. And I don’t want to see Sammy come back to be “appreciated” by anyone.
Least of all Cubs fans, among whom his value has only depreciated over the past several years.
If Kerry Wood really wants Sosa to return to Chicago, though, I’d suggest that he invite him over to his house for dinner and give him a new boom box. But keep Sammy far away Clark & Addison – and from the fans.
I don’t think they want to see No. 21 tap his heart at home plate any time in the foreseeable future – and probably for much longer.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.