For a good example of a columnist who just doesn’t get it, read this entry by the Tribune’s Rick Morrissey. He writes:
“The problem wasn’t Sammy,” Baker said of the Cubs’ 67-95 record last season. “The problem was losing.”
Yes but, fair or not to Sammy, the two are entwined. When the Cubs are winning, Sosa’s loud clubhouse music doesn’t matter. When they’re losing, as they were last season, the music grates on teammates.
Aaargh! Morrissey also complains about Sosa’s defense, his running game, his strikeouts, and his failure to advance runners. Which is all very interesting, but totally off the mark. Sosa, while not the perfect player, is not a liability on this team. He is their best position player by far and one of the best in Cubs’ history. Sammy Sosa, as Baker so rightly put it, is not the problem. The roblems are too many to list here, but they have nothing to do with the guy who feel one home run short of hitting 50 or more five seasons in a row.
Moises Alou didn’t hit a lick for the first two and a half months of the season, Corey Patterson struck out 142 times, the bullpen blew so many saves I lost count. But who does Morrissey choose to write about? Sosa. Why? Because people love to bitch about Sosa. I’m not crazy about the guy, but he’s the best we got and the best we’re going to have for a long, long time to come.
It’s not like basketball where a player’s selfishness can cost the team points. Sosa’s job is to do well for himself by hitting the ball hard. That just oh so happens to help out the team too. When you can slug the ball like Sosa, there is no conflict between selfishness and “team play.” I just think these sportswriters hate salsa music. If he started blasting the Rolling Stones I bet they’d love the guy.
The good news is that Baker knows how to handle a self-involved superstar like Sosa. He did it for years with Barry Bonds in San Francisco. As I understand it, Baker’s atittude basically was, “Hey, this guy’s the best player the rest of you will probably ever play with it. So deal with it.” Sounds about right to me.