Fergie Jenkins says it’s time Cubs welcome back Sammy Sosa
Fergie Jenkins knows how much Sammy Sosa meant to Cubs fans. He hopes that the two parties can find some common ground in the near future.
The Cubs Convention, which returns this weekend, is an event Fergie Jenkins looks forward to all year.
The Hall of Fame pitcher uses it as an opportunity to catch up with old teammates and friends, such as Billy Williams and Andre Dawson. He also likes to visit with the next generation of Cubs players and interact with fans.
“It kind of makes everyone excited for the season to start,” he said.
But there’s one former player who certainly won’t be there: Sammy Sosa.
Jenkins knew Sosa well. Jenkins was a coach with the Rangers and Cubs when Sosa played for them. And Jenkins believes it’s about time the Cubs welcome Sosa back to the organization.
“I do think the ballclub has to bend a little bit, but I also think he has to bend a little bit and want to come back,” Jenkins said. “The fans loved him when he played, he was a consistent player, he had a lot of records and hitting home runs and RBIs. He deserves an opportunity to get back into the fold because he’s such a good athlete.”
At the Cubs Convention in 2018, chairman Tom Ricketts said Sosa, the franchise’s home-run leader, owed him and the fans “a little bit of honesty” regarding his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs if he wanted to be invited to future team events. Ricketts has maintained that stance since the issue first arose.
Jenkins knows how much Sosa meant to Cubs fans. He hopes that the two parties can find some common ground in the near future.
“I think that Tom Ricketts had an opportunity to talk to Sammy, but Sammy said at the time that he just didn’t want to come back,” Jenkins said. “But I think over time, people have a tendency of forgetting about certain things and they have a healing period and I think he deserves to come back.”
Before jumping on a flight to Chicago from Arizona this week, Jenkins campaigned for a fellow Canadian to join him in Cooperstown and shared his thoughts about the Astros’ cheating scandal in this week’s Chat Room.
What kind of manager will David Ross be?
Fergie Jenkins:“The No. 1 thing is he’s going to have to put a pretty good pitching staff together because the only way you can propel yourself against that division — especially with the Cardinals and Pittsburgh — is to get some winning pitching, and I think that’s going to be the big question mark.”
To some people, relief pitchers are viewed as failed starters. What have you thought of closers — such as Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith — getting inducted into the Hall of Fame? And what did you think of Rivera becoming the first player to be unanimously voted in on his first ballot?
FJ:“The opportunity to get into the Hall of Fame is a big question mark. You’ve gotta put up big numbers, you have to be consistent. They take your 10 best years in the big leagues, and I think the numbers are very important.
“Mariano Rivera had over 600 career saves. Same goes for Lee Smith. He had [close to] 500 saves in his career. They were consistent and good at their job. They deserve it.
“The unanimous part of the game was started by Mariano, and I think it’s going to continue now with the shortstop that played with the Yankees. I think [Derek] Jeter is a real good candidate. I would also like to see Larry Walker get into the Hall of Fame. I know I’ve been the only Canadian Hall of Famer for like 29 years, so it would be nice to have some company.”
This is Walker’s final year of eligibility, and I think one of the main arguments against him is the Coors Field effect.
FJ:“The biggest thing is people think with the light air, the ball travels a little better. But he hit a lot of home runs, he was a consistent .300 hitter. He won a couple of batting titles. He was in the MVP voting, he was an athlete who went out there and played every single day. He was a great outfielder. I just think wherever you play, you put the numbers up, you deserve what happens in your career.”
What was your reaction to the Astros’ cheating scandal?
FJ:“The Astros did something that is kind of a no-no in baseball. Sure, you’re going to steal signs from time to time because the third-base coach gives consistent signs and some of the managers [take note]. But when you have technology tell you exactly what teams are trying to accomplish and you can watch it on a daily basis and it’s filmed, I think that takes too much of an advantage on ballclubs, especially in the playoffs or World Series.”
It’s one thing to steal signs from the third-base coach, but it’s another to use technology, right?
FJ:“Peanuts Lowrey was our coach in the late ’60s and ’70s with Leo Durocher, and he would constantly watch the manager if he touched the bill of his cap or his cheek or his chin and flashed his signs to the third-base coach. Those were the advantages back then, but you did it manually. And you could tell what was going on. But technology now has taken over, so now you can see it on footage and film in real time.”
What was your reaction to the one-year suspensions for manager AJ Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow?
FJ:“I think it’s a dramatic punishment because of the fact that now you’re no longer in the game. You get suspended for a year, and then you get fired from the organization. The organization really doesn’t want you back, and now you have to prove yourself to other organizations that you’re the individual that can help a ball club. And I think the punishment is pretty drastic, and I think unfortunately in baseball when you get punished like that and it gets publicized, everybody in the world knows.”
Some people would argue that the one-year suspension wasn’t enough. Pete Rose was banned for life for betting on the game.
FJ:“The No. 1 thing with Pete is the gambling part of it, and there’s no gambling in baseball. There’s a bylaw. But I think Pete should’ve been punished for less than life out of baseball — maybe five or six years. But unfortunately, when the commissioner wrote the punishment up, he was banned for life. I think it’s too much.
“And I played against Pete Rose for almost seven years in the National League, and I just think it’s unfortunate he hasn’t had that opportunity to get the votes to get him in the Hall of Fame because he was a Hall of Fame ballplayer.”