Alan, Sharon, James, and Angela took me out for dinner for my birthday tonight. Afterwards, I stopped by James and Angela's for a nightcap of steak, waffles, french fries, and of course, scotch. Okay, just scotch.
Alan called. At that late hour, it could only be something important. Sammy Sosa had been traded to the Orioles. In return, the Cubs would receive Jerry Hairston Jr. plus two minor leaguers, though they'd have to pick up a large part of Sosa's 2005 salary of $17 million. How far the mighty have fallen. To think that after Sosa's years with the Cubs, especially 1998-2001, he'd be traded for just a slap hitting 2B and two minor leaguers, is shocking.
Or is it? I'm old enough now to have seen enough quick reversals of fortune such that Sosa's rapid demise seems entirely feasible, even normal. David Duval once shot a 59. After three rounds in the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, Duval sits at +30, 53 strokes off the lead! The Cubs had clearly had enough of him, and he, with his fragile ego, couldn't bear the thought of sprinting out to RF for the home opener to the derisive boos of forty thousand Cubs fans. Sosa had a difficult contract to move, and the suitors were few. Not ideal conditions for GM Jim Hendry to make a trade.
If you re-arranged his career and put his prima donna 2004 anywhere in his career except last year, he might still be a beloved Cub. Such is life. I enjoyed the Sosa prime, when he was baseballs into orbit to all fields, but it's tough for a town like Chicago to pull for a diva.