There are two things you never want to do. You never want to compare anyone to Hitler, unless the person happens to be a megalomaniac who has tried to wipe out an entire group of people.
And you never want to compare yourself to Jesus, unless you happen to have been crucified and rose from the dead three days later.
I don’t ever want to hear Sammy Sosa’s thoughts on Hitler, but I did have the unfortunate experience of reading a blog post Tuesday in which the former Cubs slugger compared his treatment to the Son of Man’s.
The context was the subject of performance-enhancing drugs, because it always is with Sosa, and Sammy was playing the victim again, because he always does.
“It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,’’ he told former Cubs media-relations official Chuck Wasserstrom, who writes a blog. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing), and he was our savior. So if they talk s— about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
Sosa is beyond not getting it, having passed that milepost about 20 years ago. But his most recent comments show that whatever he has been doing in retirement has further loosened his grip on reality.
“They can say whatever they want to say about me,” he said. “First of all, I’m clean. They don’t have a case on me. I never failed a drug test. Never in my life. But you know what — this is not my field anymore. I’d rather not be in the Hall of Fame and have a lot of money in my pocket than to be in the Hall of Fame and try to find money to pay my bills (laughing).
‘‘. . . You saw me grow up. You saw how hard I was working. A lot of people say so many things, but I’m telling you, they have nothing on me. I’m not going to go out there begging, because they have no case. They had the Mitchell Report trying to find something, but they had nothing on Mr. Sosa.”
If, in that statement, there is a flat-out denial of using steroids, I missed it. “I’m clean” doesn’t count, not when you’re 48 and
your career is a decade in the rearview mirror.
And notice how he uses the Lance Armstrong defense, the one in which the accused party says he has never failed a drug test. How’d that work out for Armstrong?
When he was playing, Sammy would often challenge writers to come watch how hard he worked out, as if it were proof that the muscle he had added to his frame did not come from PEDs. But the obvious response was (and is) that steroids users still have to work hard to see the benefits of the drugs they’re taking. You don’t get strong by taking ’roids alone. I had no doubt that Sosa worked hard in the gym. I had plenty of doubts about what fueled that muscle gain.
He hit 609 home runs in his career, which is eighth on the all-time list, and 545 of them came with the Cubs. He wants to come back to Wrigley Field, where he has been persona non grata.
Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has said of the Steroid Era that “there are certain things that over time should happen before players are welcomed back” and that those players “owe us a little bit of honesty.” Honesty doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the horizon.
Sosa wants to be formally recognized in Chicago for his accomplishments.
“Hey, if they send me an invitation, then I would definitely say yes,” he said. “This is my house, no matter what happened [at the end]. My numbers — nobody is going to take them from me. Not even Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks, hit that many home runs. And I did it with style (laughing). But if they invite me, why not? One day, if they invite me, a lot of people will be very happy about it.”
In the interview with Wasserstrom, Sosa also said, “When nobody knew who Chicago was, I put Chicago on the map.” Sammy, from the millions and millions of people who have lived in the city and its suburbs since Chicago was incorporated in 1833, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We were lost in a wilderness of skyscrapers and culture, of Michael Jordan and Walter Payton, but you saved us from obscurity.
As Harry Caray might have said wearily, boy, oh, boy.
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