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Good morning, frents …
So Lolla has been officially canceled. Watch this be the one year where temps are clear and in the mid-70s all weekend.
Also, what am I supposed to do with this Scott Burrell throwback now?
The eventual return of Sammy Sosa
Sammy Sosa was back on Chicago airwaves Tuesday morning.
The erstwhile Cubs slugger didn’t offer up any earth-halting quotes while talking with his David Kaplan on ESPN1000. Sosa said he didn’t “want people to get mad at him for some reason” and steered clear of anything resembling controversy.
He said he would like to be invited back to Wrigley Field. He sidestepped a question about performance-enhancing drugs by saying the “numbers don’t lie.”
The most newsworthy bit might have been when Sosa said he could see his No. 21 retired someday, even though it’s been worn by 12 players since he took it off and left the clubhouse early on the last day of the 2004 season.
“I believe so,” Sosa said. “Time will heal everything.”
But will it?
I think Sosa or fans talking about a number retirement or a statue is currently way too much for someone who can’t get into Wrigley without a ticket. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has seemingly set the bar for a reunion at Sosa doing something he’s so far been unwilling to do. Namely, own up to any steroid abuse during his career.
It’s somewhat of a bizarre position from Ricketts considering the team was under different ownership during Sosa’s career and I’m not really sure why the new owners feel like a mea culpa is a prerequisite for any return.
If it’s because they think Cubs fans want it, that assumption is proven untrue any time anyone fires up a Twitter poll asking if the team should welcome Sosa back.
As you can see above, Kap posted one just before the interview. Twelve hours later, 86 percent of the nearly 15,000 respondents said that the Cubs should welcome Sosa back.
I don’t need to tell you that it’s damn near impossible to get 86 percent of people to agree on anything these days. That’s an overwhelming number.
It’s also a number I think will eventually pave the way for Sosa to make a triumphant return one day.
Sosa might need the Cubs more than they need him right now, but that won’t always be the case. At some point, the Cubs will have a few down seasons or convention attendance will dip and ownership will need to do something to score points with the fans. They’ll have just the thing, too: A Sosa return in their pockets.
I think the business aspect is what most people miss when thinking about a team’s relationship with its old players. It’s a rare situation when an alum is waving for the videoboards or signing autographs in the concourse out of the goodness of his heart. Being an ambassador is a nice post-retirement payday. It won’t take you any time to name at least a dozen of those guys cashing those checks in Chicago right now.
As for teams, maintaining a good relationship with their past standouts also makes sense. No matter if the current team wins or loses that day, seeing team legends is a brand enhancer and a reminder of what the team once was and might be able to be again.
The Cubs don’t need any of that right now with the 2016 World Series memories doing most of the work. And maybe they won’t so long as David Ross is in the dugout and Ben Zobrist is available for the Seventh Inning Stretch and the monument for that team is finally installed somewhere around Wrigley Field.
But I also don’t think the Ricketts will keep ignoring the fans on the Sosa point. No business owner in their right minds would see 86 percent of their customers asking for something and not eventually give it to them.
So it might not be this year and it might not be the next, but we’ll eventually see Sammy charging out to the right field bleachers again one day.
Carried by a wave of fans who think it’s already been too long.
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Did baseball’s owners and players finally come to an agreement on Tuesday?
Is there any reason for optimism?
Maybe? The union is set to propose an 89-game schedule with full prorated pay, which is 25 games down from last week’s 114-game proposal and closer to the 57 games of prorated pay the owners seem to be OK with. In a logical world, they seal an agreement for a 73-game schedule today, but we no longer occupy a logical world.
You know, just in case you forgot.
Apparently Matt Nagy hates Zoom calls, too. The Bears will end their offseason training about 10 days early on Thursday. Nagy decided that videoconferencing had outrun its usefulness and now players can focus on their own training instead of staring at a laptop for half the day. Hey, it worked for Anthony Rizzo …
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• “Our newsroom is heartbroken.” The stunning news of Dick Johnson’s death on Tuesday brought out a lot of heartfelt tributes from Chicago media members. I never got to meet or work with him, but I sure wish I did. (NBC Chicago)
• Bryan Smith on the Cubs’ plan for today’s abbreviated MLB draft. (Bleacher Nation)
• Jordan Lazowski breaks down the White Sox draft. (Sox on 35th)
• Jim Margalus with a great piece on the White Sox’s relative silence over the protests. “Culturally, the White Sox don’t have much reason to be timid. Geographically, it’s a different story.” (Sox Machine)
• The Marian Hossa anecdote in Adam Jahns’ story about the 2010 Blackhawks parties is even better if you picture Hossa telling it. Man, miss that guy. (The Athletic)
That’s it for today. Everyone have a great Wednesday. Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter!