This weekend, we may have witnessed the biggest All-Star snub of our generation: Slammin’ Sammy Sosa won’t be slugging it out with the rest of the 2007 stars in San Francisco in mid-July.
Sosa, of course, was in Boston this weekend, hitting fourth for the Texas Rangers. It was a circular moment of sorts for his career.
On June 21, 1989, Sosa, playing for the Rangers in his first MLB season, hit his first major league home run right here in Fenway Park, over the Monster off Roger Clemens. Here he was 18 years later, almost to the day. In the same park, on the same team, doing the same thing – hitting bombs.
Sosa crushed a 2-1 Josh Beckett offering over the Monster Saturday, the shot proving the decisive blow in the Rangers’ 5-4 victory.
The blast gave Sammy 14 homers on the year, more than Manny, Ortiz and Magglio Ordonez and good for ninth most in the American League. His 63 RBI placed him in a tie for fourth most in the AL. His slugging percentage (.476) placed him 18th.
Now his batting average is only .255 and his on-base percentage a measly .308, but don’t you think one of the most prolific run producers in the game – and in the past decade – should be in the All-Star game over say someone like Michael Young?
You don’t wanna see smiling, goofy Sammy in the Home Run Derby? Of course you do. Everyone loves Sosa. He gets a free pass mostly because of this. He’s a gimmick, a sideshow, an unreal video game hero – a source of entertainment. And that’s what the All-Star game is after all, entertainment (who cares about the whole “This time it counts” thing).
Young, meanwhile, is having a pedestrian season by his standards. He’s hitting .293 with 4 long balls and 48 batted in, good, but better than Sosa? He fails to lead his team in any of the main offensive categories (they have another player named Kenny Lofton) and he is nowhere near as tight as Sammy.
Everyone thought Sammy was done after his abysmal season in Baltimore two years ago when he hit .221 with 14 homers and 45 RBI. He was out of baseball last year and had to practically beg someone to get a minor league deal. The team that gave him his first start, the Rangers, took a flier on him.
And what did he do? Just had a huge spring training, made the major league roster and ended up hitting fourth as the most feared hitter in an impotent lineup minus Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira. Picture the Sox could have signed Sosa for $500,000 and had him in right field instead of The $14-million Bust known as JD Drew. Sosa hitting fifth in a Dominican Dandy trio with Manny and Papi? Scary.
While Barry Bonds gets walked like its 2001, big league pitchers still pitch to Sosa. Why? Who knows. He doesn’t get much respect after his terrible season with the Orioles and I think everyone pretty much thought he was toast once they started testing for steroids.
Cause let’s face it: Sosa was cheating TONS. The guy was most likely on steroids and was caught and suspended for using a corked bat. Hmmm…so he was on ‘roids AND using a corked bat?? You can’t cheat much more than that. He was just hitting bombs and smiling and hopping around everywhere.
And you know what? I love it. So what if he was cheating. So what if he forgot how to speak English at the congressional hearings on steroids when he had given hundreds of interviews during the home run chase. The man is unreal. He’s the only player ever with three 60-home run seasons. He won an MVP in 1998 with the Cubs. He’s a fan favorite. A legend. A being. A semi-God.
We can only hope that Manny decides to skip the game. Give this man Sosa.