Sammy Sosa reached a milestone tonight in Texas as he slugged his 600th home run of his career. While some are celebrating and applauding the 5th member of the 600 home run club, I’m more intrigued by the celebration itself.
You see, what shocks me is how Sosa has made the turnaround in his reputation. It was only 3 years ago that Sammy Sosa was facing some dark days. Sosa was being mocked for his corked bat, his numbers were on the decline, and he received a much deserved black-eye for leaving Wrigley Field early during a game in which he wasn’t starting. If you don’t remember, his story was he left after the 7th inning. The true story told by the surveillance cameras was he left 15 minutes after the game had started. Ouch. Mix in some steroid allegations thanks to Jose Canseco and his quick decline with the Orioles in 2005 and you’ve got a player that most people were making out to be a cheater and happy to see call it a career.
Flash forward to the beginning of this season when Sosa signed a $500,000 minor league contract with the Rangers to make his comeback. Most, including myself, figured the dude didn’t stand a chance let alone deserve one. And yet, here we are 70 games into the season and Sosa has 12 homers and over 50 RBIs. That’s not too shabby. In fact, I wouldn’t mind paying half-a-million to have that kind of production on my ball club. But like I said, what’s even more interesting is the celebration and applause he is receiving. It just goes to show what a big smile and fun home run celebration can earn you: forgiveness.
To me, Sammy Sosa is a sign of how baseball fans are eager to dismiss the past and give second (and even third) chances. Look at Roberto Alomar. Most people have forgotten that he actually spit into an umpire’s face once in his career. I have this theory that if Pete Rose had kept his song and dance alive about how he never bet on baseball we’d be seeing him in the hall right about now. All this makes me wonder how come Barry Bonds just can’t shut his mouth and start acting like he’s happy he’s still playing the game. If only he would take a page out of Sammy Sosa’s book and start blowing kisses toward the camera after home runs, there might be at least a few people clapping when he finally passes Hank Aaron. Unfortunately (and I say that with a smile), his celebration will be nothing compared Sammy’s even though he’s earned the biggest prize of all.