After spending the last six months or so sitting around waiting for his phone to ring, Sammy Sosa is finally ready to call it quits.
He'll walk away with quite a resume: 609 home runs (sixth all-time), three seasons with more than 60 home runs, seven All-Star appearances, one MVP award. Clearly, Hall of Fame numbers.
He'll also carry with him, however, the stigma of steroid abuse. None of it concrete or proven, mind you, but a large enough pile of circumstantial evidence to raise plenty of suspicions.
In comments made Wednesday to ESPN, Sosa was already engaged in a preemptive attack on anyone who would doubt his candidacy for Cooperstown.
"Everything I achieved, I did it thanks to my perseverance, which is why I never had any long, difficult moments [as a baseball player]. If you have a bad day in baseball, and start thinking about it, you will have ten more.
"I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don't I have the numbers to be inducted?"
It's an odd turn of phrase, and likely little more than bluster. Anyone who would "calmly" wait out such an honor would not feel the need to announce it to the world. Sammy Sosa is going on the offensive, while sounding quite defensive about it.
In a thoughtful column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chris De Luca takes Sosa to task. He has some questions for Sosa that he'd like answered.
Why, De Luca asks, didn't Sosa meet with Sen. George Mitchell?
Why would Jose Canseco – who has been proven correct on a number of steroid issues – say that the physical changes in Sosa's body clearly point to use of performance-enhancers?
Why, given the chance to confront the allegations, would Sosa take a pass?
While Sosa is calmly waiting for his induction to the Hall of Fame -- he can expect some anxious moments -- he better either keep his mouth shut on the subject of steroids or be willing to take the allegations against him head-on.
So is Sosa a Hall of Famer? If it were solely up to the numbers, the question would be ridiculous. First ballot, no problem.
But as Mark McGwire has found out, it's not going to be that easy. When Sosa's name comes up on the ballot in five years, voters will be faced with these two questions:
1. Do you believe Sammy Sosa took performance-enhancing drugs?
2. Does it matter?
In the next five years, more information could come forth either damning or absolving Sosa on the first question. It's unlikely, but possible.
So it will probably come down to the second question. Does it matter? Keep in mind, voters are asked to consider character.
Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player's record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.
So far, based on the actions of Hall of Famer voters, it does indeed matter. Unless Sosa comes up with a good explanation, he would be advised to not sit and wait so calmly.