Our old friend Chuck Wasserstrom, a longtime executive in the Cubs’ front office before the Ricketts regime, caught up with Sammy Sosa recently and posted a lengthy interview with Sosa on his personal website.
Sosa is clearly comfortable chatting with Wasserstrom and reveals plenty in this fascinating interview, touching on his feelings of wanting to retire as a Cub, what really happened on that last day of the 2004 season and his thoughts on the 2016 World Series.
Though the Cubs under Ricketts have tried to embrace their past, Sosa has been one glaring omission. There has been more talk about honoring a fan named Bartman than a celebrated slugger named Sosa.
In some corners of the front office, there have been discussions of a Sosa reunion, but nothing has been pulled off. Yet.
“I would come back,” Sosa said. “But I’m not going to go up there and say, ‘I’m here. Please bring me back and give me a chance.’ No way. I’m not hungry. I have too much pride.”
As for leaving early on that last game of the 2004 season — effectively sealing Sosa’s exit from Chicago — he tells the story this way:
“My relationship with the organization was great. The last day of the season, the last game, I asked (assistant trainer) Sandy Krum to talk to Mr. Dusty Baker and ask him if I could leave early. He said yes, that I could go. That was a mistake by me. I should have stayed there. It was the last game. My intention was to finish my career in Chicago. That was my intention all the way. I never wanted to leave Chicago. I should have handled that situation differently, yes indeed. I recognize my mistake. But look, I have my pride, and I know I had a tremendous career in Chicago. When nobody knew who Chicago was, I put Chicago on the map. Like you said, if I could have done it again, I would have done it differently. The only thing we cannot do is turn back time. We can’t do that. But hey, we have to move forward. I understand I made a mistake. I regret it, definitely, but I have to move on.”
Sosa says he was happy to see the Cubs finally end their World Series title drought.
“I’d been watching the last couple of World Series,” he said “And last year, not because it was the Chicago Cubs, but because it was the seventh game of the World Series – it was one of the greatest games I’ve ever seen. Wow, it was incredible. Chicago showed the world that they can do it, and I hope they can repeat. As soon as they hired the manager (Joe Maddon), I was very happy about it. That manager gives chances to the young players. He knows how to deal with the young players. He makes everybody comfortable.”
Our Rick Morrissey weighs in with his thoughts on the latest Sosa interview, taking particular exception to Sammy comparing himself to … Jesus.
REV YOUR ENGINES
Our Gordon Wittenmyer has the details on that mysterious white Ferrari that took center stage on one of the Cubs’ practice fields today.
Could it be Maddon is up to one of his famous tricks? Well, of course, the answer is yes.
Maddon is known as much for his silly themes for his players as for his maddening pitching changes late in postseason ballgames. As our Gordon Wittenmyer details, the Cubs have had several themed events that encouraged players to dress up as cheerleaders or Disney princesses during trips since Maddon took over.
It was usually laughed off as team-building exercises in fun.
But Major League Baseball has a new hazing policy that prohibits teams from even encouraging players to engage in activities such as “dressing up as women or wearing costumes that may be offensive to individuals based on their race, sex, nationality, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or other characteristic.”
That kind of sounds like what the Cubs have been doing, right?
“This isn’t hazing,” Maddon said. “To have people dress up in a different manner, to me it’s a little bit over the top to consider that hazing.”
Let’s see how far the Cubs plan to push MLB on this one.
MORRISSEY ON HENDRICKS
Morrissey caught up with right-hander Kyle Hendricks in Mesa, Ariz., and looked at how The Professor rebounded from a rough 2015 last season and whether there will be carryover into 2017. Loved this quote in the Morrissey column:
“If you see Hendricks in the street, the last thing you’re thinking is he’s a baseball player,’’ catcher Miguel Montero said. “You probably think he’s an engineer or a doctor. Guess what? He’s a great athlete.”
In case you missed it yesterday, HBO shared some clips from its Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel that airs tonight featuring Maddon and Cubs president Theo Epstein. Gumbel is a huge Cubs fan and gets some great insight from the Cubs’ bosses.
MEANWHILE, ON THE SOUTH SIDE . . .
Over in White Sox camp, our Daryl Van Schouwen took a long look at first-round pick Zack Collins.
Think of Collins as Kyle Schwarber Light. He’s a catcher with highly touted hitting skills and highly questionable defensive skills. Collins tells Van Schouwen that kind of talk only motivates him more. Sounds a lot like Schwarber.
Avisail Garcia arrived at Sox camp 14 pounds lighter and is determined to loss more before camp breaks. By that time, Garcia also hopes to nail down the job in right field.
AROUND THE MAJORS . . .
Around the majors, former Cardinals pitcher Rick Ankiel has just finished a new book that is due out in April. In the book, the pitcher famous for his wild pitches details how he drank vodka to calm his famous nerves before outings.
Finally, around the horn on Twitter …