I'm glad to see Sammy go. Last season he was anything but helpful for the team, and it's clear his skills as a player are in decline. The Chicago Tribune had a great graphic in the Sunday sports section that I would link to if they made it available online. It graphed Sammy's production in games played, home runs, RBI, and runs. Between 1998 and 2001 he is obviously performing at his best; driving in tons of runs and having 50+ home run seasons. But then starting in 2002 you see things start to drop off rapidly. With the sharpest decline starting in 2003 - the same season he got beamed hard in the head by a fastball in Pittsburgh. Sammy hasn't been the same player since - both on the field and as a personality. For this I'm glad to see the Cubs shedding themselves of a player who can no longer contribute to the team.
However, Tribune columnist Mike Downey, a writer I really enjoy and admire, made a good point in his Saturday column. In a nutshell, if you are a Cubs fan, at some point in the past Sammy was a hero of ours.
"Maybe you're an Ernie Banks man. Maybe you're a Billy Williams fan. Whatever you are, the fact remains that at some point in your life, if you're a Cubs fan, this man was a hero of yours. Or a man you admired."Personally, I'm a Ryne Sandberg man, but Downey is right. I used to be a big fan of Sammy's. Heather can tell you how I used to give out my Sammy Sosa chant in a bastardized Sammy Davis Jr. voice whenever Sosa stepped up to the plate, hit a long ball, (or more infrequently) made a great play in right field. But his behavior over the last few years have shown him to be a player more concerned with his personal stats and accolades, and not the team. Sure, Wrigley Field won't be the same without Sammy's big grin and fun-loving (and bigger-than-life) personality in the clubhouse, but we've got Nomar now to be the superstar of the team And Nomar knows that team comes before the player.
One of the big questions now is who will play right field. There has been talk of the Cubs signing Jeremy Burnitz. But Burnitz doesn't excite any Cubs fan, including me. I'd rather see the Cubs sign Magglio Ordonez. He might be coming off some serious knee surgery, but he has proven in the past that he can drive in lots of runs. Which is what the Cubs can use considering the departure of not only Sosa, but Moises Alou as well.
The situation in right field has to be worked out, but I have to believe the Cubs overall were helped by the subtraction of Sosa. I loved him in his prime, but it was time to leave. Hell, I've dropped the bad Sammy Davis voice and I've been working on my bastardized Boston accent all winter. NOMAH! YOU'RE WICKED HARDCORE!