Ernie Banks has some advice for Sammy Sosa:
- In light of Mark McGwire's recent admission that he took steroids during his record-breaking home run season of 1998, Banks says he would like to assist Sammy Sosa in coming forward to address allegations that he used steroids.
"I would say just what Mark McGwire did," Banks said. "Come clean with it. Explain it to them. ... Just say: 'This is what happened.' It is hard to do, to admit this. Just admit it and live with it and understand it. I am sure a lot of people will forgive him."
Banks traveled to the Dominican Republic last year on behalf of the Cubs and tried to contact Sosa, but the former slugger was in Brazil working as a representative for his country. Now Banks wants to meet with Sosa to have a heart-to-heart talk.
"I will just explain it to him and how the people are," Banks said. "I don't think he really understood that. People are for you; they want to see you do well. They are forgiving people. We haven't won in over 100 years, so this audience here is pretty special."
Before we summarily dismiss Banks' comments out of hand -- who is he to tell Sammy Sosa what to do? -- I'd like to consider the possibility that Mr. Cub might actually have something here.
Assuming that Sosa did, umm, stretch the rules just a tad, what does he have to lose by coming clean? Everybody already assumes that he cheated, and he's not going to be elected to the Hall of Fame as things stand now. So at the moment, Sosa's got to keep a secret and he's not going to Cooperstown. Changing the first of those might not change the second, but at least it's possible and Sosa would have one less story to keep straight. I mean, assuming that he actually came clean rather than just make up a new lie.
For a long time, when people asked me about Mark McGwire and other Hall of Fame candidates of his ilk, I said I wasn't in any hurry to make up my mind, because the longer we waited, the more we would know. With so many cheaters attended by so many dealers and (eventually) so many investigators, the veil simply couldn't be maintained forever.
Of course we'll never know everything. But I'm a big fan of information. Give me what you've got, and I'll do my best to figure out what's wheat and what's chaff and what all of it means. So I'd love to hear what Sosa has to say about what was really happening in 1998.
Not that he should care about what I'd love. Sammy Sosa should care about what's best for himself, and I agree with Ernie Banks: the best thing for himself might be admitting that he had a little help. Because we're already assuming the worst.