By Dave Wischnowsky –
(CBS) Well, Joe Girardi doesn’t want to come back to Wrigley Field.
But, hey, Sammy Sosa does.
No, not as manager. (I don’t think.) Although, with the dearth of big league talent that the Cubs currently have on their big league roster, Sosa could probably lose just as many games as the next guy.
What he’s not going to lose in Chicago, however, is love. After all, Sammy lost that a long time ago. But, not surprisingly, he’s still looking for it – in all the wrong places.
On Tuesday night, WGN-AM’s David Kaplan played an interview that he conducted with Sosa last week in Fort Lauderdale. During the chat, Sammy said that he’s willing to make peace with the Cubs organization in the hopes of returning to Chicago and behind honored.
For what, I don’t know, but during his interview Sosa said, “First of all, a lot of miscommunication and a few things that happened before. That’s why we haven’t got a great relationship with the organization. But I’m looking forward to one day, you walk in Wrigley Field and see my statue, see my flag.
“I don’t think they’ll find another player to put up the numbers I put up at Wrigley Field. I doubt it.”
They just don’t make PEDs like they used to.
Sosa went on to add, “I’m looking forward to one day, when the time is right, I’ll be here. They know where they can find me. And we can make that relationship (work). No matter what happens, whoever has a bad rap about me or thinking I’m not the right person, the numbers don’t lie.
“I hope one day, we can come to the conclusion we can be friends again and they definitely can bring me back to Wrigley Field.”
After I finished rolling my eyes, Sosa’s comments made me think about September 2012 when during his own Appreciation Day at Wrigley, Kerry Wood urged the Cubs to better appreciate Sosa and other former players, saying, “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.”
After Kerry’s statement about Sammy last year, the Tribune’s Steve Rosenbloom wrote, “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.”
I agree with Rosenbloom about Sosa. But in regards to ex-Cubs, Wood did bring up an interesting point that’s become even more poignant as the franchise over the past two years has failed to create any true new stars, while also failing to have any former ones stay part of the organization.
That combination – along with the 197 losses – has helped create two of the most joyless seasons of Cubs baseball that I can ever recall.
With that dynamic in mind, after news broke on Wednesday that Girardi, a former Cub, had opted to sign a four-year contract to continue managing the Yankees rather than explore an opportunity in Chicago, I received a text from a friend. Mentioning ex-Cub Ryne Sandberg, now the Phillies manager, he asked if there’s a “Jordan effect” with former Cubs players.
My friend was referring to how Michael Jordan wasn’t welcomed back into the Bulls organization with a front-office role after his retirement, and how it’s made for a frosty present-day relationship between the Bulls and their iconic star. Some believe that free agents shied away from the Bulls in years past because Jordan wasn’t treated with greater respect.
I don’t know whether that’s true, but even if it is I told my friend that I didn’t think the dynamic with the Cubs was quite the same. For example, I don’t believe that Girardi snubbed the Cubs because the Cubs had snubbed Sandberg when hiring a new manager.
Even if they did snub him twice.
Nevertheless, it is true that with the North Siders’ decision to pass on Sandberg, their inability to lure Girardi, their loss of Greg Maddux from the front office, their lack of a significant role for Kerry Wood, and their decision to not hire Mark Grace as radio analyst to replace the late legend Ron Santo (for understandable reasons, considering Grace’s legal troubles), the Cubs have very few former greats connected to their current franchise.
Keith Moreland doesn’t quite cut it in terms of star power.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has promised that the team will win a World Series. And we’ll see about that. But if they ever do, it would be nice if some ex-Cubs did help play some role in winning it. After all, with no current stars on the field and no former stars in the organization, it’s woefully dark at Wrigley Field these days. Even when the lights are on.
As for Sammy, though, the door back to to Wrigley can remain dark. And he can build his own statue somewhere else.
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.