Does Sammy Sosa deserve a place in Cooperstown?
The deference once shown to the stars of America’s favorite pastime has given way to widespread cynicism when records are shattered, especially since Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa engaged in a spirited race in 1998 to break Roger Maris’s single-season record of 61 home runs, a chase that gripped the country with excitement.
In a bid to remove clouds of suspicion chronicled in the book Game of Shadows, Major League Baseball commissioned the “Mitchell Report”. While baseball is not the only sport facing problems, it’s the only sport so invested in an image of sweet American innocence.
Last week, a congressional committee announced it will revisit Sosa’s testimony after a newspaper reported he had tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003 (Alex Rodriguez’s name was also leaked from the same supposedly anonymous survey of 104 players who tested positive in 2003, but that’s a totally different topic).
The Oversight and Government Reform Committee’s review came shortly after Sosa told ESPN’s Spanish-language service, that he’s about to formally announce his retirement and “calmly wait” for his induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, for which he will become eligible in 2013.
Meanwhile, Pete Rose, who’s never been suspected or convicted of using banned substances, remains persona non grata at Cooperstown despite holding some impressive records: all-time Major League leader in hits (4,256), three World Series rings, three batting titles, one Most Valuable Player Award, two Gold Gloves, the Rookie of the Year Award, and made 17 All-Star appearances at an unequaled five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B, and 1B).
Twenty years ago, Rose agreed to permanent ineligibility from baseball amidst accusations that he gambled on baseball games while playing for and managing the Reds.
In this context, should those suspected of having taken drugs be banned from entering Cooperstown?