In Fond — Yes, Fond — Memory Of Sammy Sosa

Remember the Cubs slugger for more than his faults

If you watched plenty of Cubs games in your life -- especially if you, like us, progressed formatively from age seven to age 19 during Sammy Sosa's tenure, which started in 1992 and ended in 2004 -- then the memories are etched in your brain forever. Sosa's big armbands, his bigger smile, his sprints from the dugout around the outfield as fans cheered, his interactions with the right field bleacher crowd after every pitch -- for many years, Sammy Sosa was the Chicago Cubs. That will be hard to forget.

The reason we bring this up is that late last night Sammy Sosa officially announced his retirement from the game of baseball. The first though: Sammy Sosa wasn't retired yet? The second: Who cares? He's a cheater! He had cork in his bat! He left the last Cubs game early! He fell off a cliff late in his career! After his steroids ran out, probably!

All valid points. But there's the question Cubs fans must ask themselves: is that how they'll choose to remember Sammy Sosa? Beyond The Ivy's Bob Romashko presents a far more positive framework:

On years of bad Cubs team, Sosa was the one thing worth watching. [...] Sammy may have had his problems with other members of the team. I don’t know what he put in his body. And he shouldn’t have left his last game as a Cub early, but that’s a really minor transgression. But in spite of all that, he was a joy to watch in his years as a Cub. He was the greatest hitter the Cubs have had in my lifetime, and I’m glad I got to watch him play.

Romashko hopes Sosa and the Cubs can mend their fences and bring Sosa back to the park in honor; he likewise hopes the Hall of Fame recognizes Sosa's considerable accomplishments in the game. Neither of those things are likely to happen. The inference that Sosa did steroids -- probably a fair one, given his numbers and body type and the era in which he played -- will forever taint the way Sosa is treated by the Cubs, their fans, and baseball in general.

That's fair. But it's a matter of what you choose to remember. You can choose to focus on the negatives. Or you can remember the joy you felt watching Sammy Sosa hit the ball -- remember the Wrigley crowd's reaction when he hit his 2003 playoffs walk-off home run onto Waveland -- all those years of fun and entertainment derived from one thing: watching a truly great hitter, steroids or not, be better at that one thing than many of us will ever be at anything.

Don't revise history. But don't block the good parts, either. You can make that choice.

Eamonn Brennan is a Chicago-based writer, editor and blogger. You can also read him at Yahoo! Sports, Mouthpiece Sports Blog, and Inside The Hall, or at his personal site, Follow him on Twitter.

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