Sammy Sosa wants his number retired by the Cubs: Does he have a point?

Sammy Sosa wants his number retired by the Chicago Cubs but should it happen?

In the late 1990s and into early 2000s, there was one MLB player that ruled over Chicago Cubs fans’ hearts: Sammy Sosa. And why not?

In each season from 1995 through 2004, Sosa hit at least 35 home runs and from 1995 through 2003, he had at least 100 RBI in each season as well.

Furthermore, he won the 1998 NL MVP Award after he had 66 home runs and 158 RBI (the latter of which led the majors). He came in 2nd in NL MVP voting in 2001 after he hit 64 home runs and had 160 RBI (the latter of which, again, led the majors).

In total 1995 through 2004, Sosa hit 479 home runs and had 1226 RBI, for an average of 48 home runs and 123 RBI per season. He also had a slash line of .286/.366/.588, with an OPS+ of 144 (or 44 percent more offensive production than the league average). In those 10 seasons, he was an All-Star seven times and eight top 10 NL MVP finishes.

Fast forward 20+ years later and Sammy Sosa is a pariah in Wrigley Field and shunned by the Cubs organization.

Why? Performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs), among other things (including a corked bat in 2003).

Back in 2018, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts told the Chicago Sun-Times that Sammy Sosa won’t even be welcomed back at Wrigley Field until he comes clean and apologizes for his PED transgressions. But Ricketts also expressed some sympathy for Sosa and other players that had positive tests (like Sosa reportedly did in 2003) and others that have been accused.

“I really believe all the players from that era who were in that kind of steroid era … I think we owe them a lot of understanding,” Ricketts said. “We have to put ourselves in their shoes and be very, very sympathetic to everything, all the decisions they had to make, and certainly as it turned out after testing had begun in 2002, a large number of players test positive.”

Should the Chicago Cubs retire Sammy Sosa’s number?

Until Sammy Sosa apologizes, the Chicago Cubs won’t be retiring his No. 21 anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t.

Regardless of what the Cubs think or what fans think about Sosa and his achievements, he was the best player on the Cubs for a decade. After the unmitigated disaster that was the 1994-1995 MLBPA strike, attendance was down by 20 percent. However, the 1998 home run race between St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Mark McGwire and Sosa were something that, arguably, saved baseball.

Back in 2010, Sosa told Chicago Magazine (h/t Bleacher Report) that he wasn’t happy that the organization hadn’t retired his number.

“That number should be untouchable because of the things that I did for that organization,” Sosa said. “That right there shows me that they don’t care about me and they don’t want to have a good relationship with me.

“My numbers don’t lie,” Sosa continued. “Everything that I did was so big — my career was so good — that even if people want to scratch it from the board, it’s not going to happen. Those numbers are going to stay there forever.”

But Sosa refused to talk about steroid allegations and he still won’t talk about it more than a decade later.

“I don’t want to talk about that,” Sosa said in regards to PEDs. “Let’s talk about something else.”

Currently, Sosa’s No. 21 has been worn by a dozen players, including relief pitcher Ethan Roberts in 2022. Roberts made his MLB debut this season and, as of this publication, has an ERA of 8.22 in nine appearances.

Sosa has had a big fall from grace and, apparently, so has his former uniform number.

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