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Tom can't stop making it weird
How are the Ricketts still unprepared to address their shunning of Sammy Sosa?
The first of a series of newsletters over the next few days on Cubs Convention.
I will give the lemmings who attended Cubs Convention 2023: The Reawakening over the weekend a lot of credit. I did not expect for Tom Ricketts get booed that loudly by those fans when he was introduced for his sad little TED Talk during the opening ceremonies. But the Cubs were ready for it. They played “Go Cubs Go” as he was introduced and were ready to crank it up to drown out those boos. It didn’t work, but hey it was surprisingly self aware for this bunch.
And then as Tom was about to make his triumphant announcement about the selection of Shawon Dunston and Mark Grace to the Utility Tunnel of Fame Under The Budweiser Bleachers, some fans started chanting “Sam-my! Sam-my!”
Tom was clearly irritated and said dismissively, “It’s not Sammy.” And then tried to cover with “He’s not even eligible yet.”
He’s not eligible 19 years after he left the team and 15 years after his last MLB game? Whatever.
Tom had a rough go of it during his little set on Friday night. He at one point started “shushing” fans who were getting a little rowdy right in front of him. But this is not out of character for him. In Tom’s world the real supporters of his dad’s baseball team aren’t the paying customers. No, it’s his beloved corporate partners. The ones who pay him the real money. He has to pretend to give a shit about us, and he’s not that good at it.
The Garbage Family™ has owned the Cubs since late in 2009. They’ve had 14 years to figure out how to explain to us what their problem with Sammy Sosa is, and they have never been willing, or able, to do it.
We get a lot of, “He knows what he did,” bullshit.
On Saturday, during a largely listless (even for them) family session with Cole Wright babbling his way through softball questions for Tom and his sister Laura, Tom came the closest he ever has of explaining why the family is so anti-Sosa.
He intimated it’s because Sammy used steroids.
Wait, he did? Why didn’t we know about this? How has baseball held this impressive secret all these years?
So that’s it? Steroids?
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
Under the Garbage Family’s stewardship, this franchise has held their nose and looked the other way while employing domestic abusers and homophobes, but somehow the standard for their all-time home run hitter is that much higher?
Look, Sammy’s a weirdo. We get that. But in this case it’s the Ricketts who insist on making it weird.
They act like the only way to engage with Sammy is to give him the full retired number, statue, honorary phony baloney paid job in the front office treatment. Nobody’s asking for that. Besides, how could you possibly ask a star like Ethan Roberts to change numbers?
Every time they have any kind of fan function, and the convention is the most visible of those, fans badger them with questions about Sammy.
The reason is simple. There are a lot of Cubs fans in their 30s and 40s who are Cubs fans because Sammy Sosa was awesome for a decade from 1993 to 2003. He was a flawed star, and at his peak we all had a feeling something wasn’t right. But why did we care if our superstar slugger was roided out of his mind? So was the biggest star on the Cardinals. It was mutually assured destruction and we were all for it.
What the Ricketts don’t realize1 is that their insistence on acting like the Sammy Sosa years never happened is much more of an insult to the fans than it is to a guy who made $124,000,000 (minus the $80,000 that got stolen from that very secure towel he and Manny Alexander had it in, in that hotel lobby) playing baseball.
Their insistence on shunning Sammy is just another “fuck you” from them to the fans.
Nobody is asking them to beatify Sammy. Just do the bare minimum. Invite him to a game, have him throw out the first pitch while we laugh that he’s dressed like a cowboy for no apparent reason, and have him sing the stretch.
That’s it. Do that like every five years or so and this all goes away.
They are about to run into an unintended consequence of the way they have Sammy-proofed their honor process.
Right now, they only retire the numbers of Hall of Famers. Ron Santo got his retired before he got into the Hall but that was pre-Ricketts and then he made it anyway. They only give statues to Hall of Famers.
But at some point it’s going to be time to honor Anthony Rizzo, and he’s not going to make the Hall of Fame. I’m convinced the only reason they lean on the Hall requirement is that it gives them a handy way to exclude Sammy.
And if their stance is that Sammy using steroids and being a phony, selfish prick a lot of the time is somehow offensive to the organization, they might want to look at how they insist on incessantly portraying the most popular broadcaster they’ve ever had as a bumbling, senile drunk.
Sammy never did anything to the Cubs as bad as what the Ricketts have allowed Ryan Dempster do to the memory of Harry Caray.
(Well, except for throwing home on Jeff Conine’s sac fly instead of throwing to second and holding Mike Lowell at first when game six was still tied at three in the eighth inning. But other than that, nothing.)
Now we’re led to believe that the path back for Sammy is for the current Cubs Utility Tunnel of Famers to vote him into their shitty little club when he’s eligible. Whenever the hell that is.
Fuck that. You own the team. You make the rules. How about you go ahead and fix this?
Did you ever do anything this cool?
No you did not.
Free Sammy. If for no other reason that then we can stop talking about this.
This is me being charitable, because I think they do realize it and just don’t give a shit.