Sammy Sosas career: A complicated case against Cooperstown

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Sammy Sosas career: A complicated case against Cooperstown

Only seven men have hit more than the 609 home runs Sammy Sosa slammed during his big-league career. He did it with a flair for the dramatic, inside one of baseballs cathedrals, while playing for a marquee franchise.

Yet as a Hall of Fame candidate, Sosa has generated almost zero momentum. The Cubs dont keep him around as a member of their family and hes gone off the grid, maintaining a cone of silence.

Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have become lightning rods on talk shows and Twitter. This time Sosa is barely part of the conversation. Baseball Think Factorys online exit polling from the Baseball Writers Association of America has him hovering around 15 percent.

Its almost impossible to see Sosa getting voted into Cooperstown now. How did it get to this point? With the results to be revealed on Wednesday (1 p.m., MLB Network), heres a look back on his controversial career:

July 30, 1985: Signed with the Rangers as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.

June 16, 1989: Made his big-league debut at Yankee Stadium, hitting leadoff and going 2-for-4 with a double and a run scored for a Texas lineup built around Rafael Palmeiro, Ruben Sierra and Julio Franco.

June 21, 1989: Hit his first home run in the majors -- off Clemens at Fenway Park.

July 29, 1989: Traded to the White Sox along with pitcher Wilson Alvarez and infielder Scott Fletcher for Harold Baines and infielder Fred Manrique.

1990 and 1991: Hit 25 homers combined in two full seasons on the South Side.

March 30, 1992: Traded along with pitcher Ken Patterson to the Cubs for outfielder George Bell.

1993: Became the Cubs' first member of the 30-30 club, slugging 33 homers and stealing 36 bases.

July 11, 1995: Returned to Texas to play in his first All-Star Game at The Ballpark in Arlington.

1995: Earned his first Silver Slugger Award and finished eighth in the MVP voting after generating 36 homers, 119 RBIs, 34 steals and 89 runs.

Sammy Sosa: By the NumbersAs the clock counts down to the reveal of the Hall of Fame voting on Wednesday afternoon, Sammy Sosa's name has been curiously out of the discussion - for good or bad. Here's a look at some of "Slammin' Sammy's" career statistics.YEARTEAMABRHHRRBISOAVGOBPSLGOPS1989TEX848201320.238.238.310.5481989CWS99192731027.273.351.414.7651990CWS532721241570150.233.282.404.6871991CWS3163964103398.203.240.335.5761992CHC262416882563.260.317.393.7101993CHC598921563393135.261.309.485.7941994CHC42659128257092.300.339.545.8841995CHC5648915136119134.268.340.500.8401996CHC4988413640100134.273.323.564.8881997CHC6429016136119174.251.300.480.7791998CHC64313419866158171.308.377.6471.0241999CHC62511418063141171.288.367.6351.0022000CHC60410619350138168.320.406.6341.0402001CHC57714618964160153.328.437.7371.1742002CHC55612216049108144.288.399.594.9932003CHC5179914440103143.279.358.553.9112004CHC478691213580133.253.332.517.8492005BAL3803984144584.221.295.376.6712007TEX412531042192112.252.311.468.779Totals88131475240860916672306.273.344.534.878Source: MLB.com1997: Led the National League with 174 strikeouts while putting up 36 homers for a last-place, 94-loss Cubs team.

June 1998: Set a major-league record with 20 home runs in a calendar month.

September 1998: Joined Mark McGwire in an epic home-run chase. Gave Big Mac a bear hug on Sept. 8 after McGwire hit his record-setting 62nd home run off Cubs pitcher Steve Trachsel in St. Louis. Less than a week later, Sosa responded with his 62nd homer at Wrigley Field. His video-game numbers -- 66 homers, 158 RBIs, 134 runs -- made him MVP.

Sept. 30, 1998: Made playoff debut and collected two hits in a 7-1 loss to the Braves at Turner Field. The Cubs got swept as Sosa didnt record another hit in the three-game series.

Dec. 21, 1998: Dressed in white togas, with wreaths around their heads, Sosa and McGwire appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated as the magazines Sportsmen of the Year.

1999: Put up 63 homers and 141 RBIs for a last-place, 95-loss team.

January 2000: Asked to name his biggest mistake as an adult during a Republican campaign debate in South Carolina, Texas governor George W. Bush, the former Rangers managing partner and future president, said: I signed off on that wonderful transaction: Sammy Sosa for Harold Baines.

July 11, 2000: Won the Home Run Derby in Atlanta, going deep 26 times before beating Ken Griffey Jr. in the finals, a sideshow to a season in which he would account for 50 homers and 138 RBIs.

May 16, 2001: Launched his 400th career homer at Wrigley Field against Astros right-hander Shane Reynolds.

2001: Became the first player in major-league history to put together a third season with 60-plus homers.

2002: Led the league with 49 homers and drove in 122 runs, making it five straight All-Star Games and Silver Sluggers.

April 4, 2003: Hit his 500th career home run off Reds pitcher Scott Sullivan at Great American Ball Park, becoming the 18th member of that exclusive club.

June 4, 2003: Busted for using a corked bat. Umpire Tim McClelland ejected Sosa after a broken-bat groundout against Tampa Bay at Wrigley Field. He claimed it was his batting practice bat, apologized to fans and received a seven-game suspension.

Sept. 30, 2003-Oct. 15, 2003: Reached the postseason for the second and final time in his career. Hit .188 as the Cubs eliminated the Braves. Posted a 1.031 OPS with two homers, six RBIs and seven runs during a heartbreaking NLCS loss to the Marlins.

April 18, 2004: Set a franchise record with his 513th home run in a Cubs uniform.

May 2004: Sneezed too hard, injured his back and wound up being sidelined for more than a month.

Oct. 3, 2004: Walked out on the season finale, which would result in a 87,400 fine -- or one days pay. Reports had him leaving Wrigley Field 15 minutes before first pitch, while rumors persisted about a teammate smashing his boombox.

Feb. 2, 2005: Traded with cash to the Orioles for pitcher Dave Crouthers, infielder Mike Fontenot and utility guy Jerry Hairston Jr.

March 17, 2005: Testified at a Congressional hearing: To be clear, I have never taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

February 2006: Turned down a non-guaranteed offer from the Nationals, prompting agent Adam Katz to tell ESPN.com: We're not going to put him on the retirement list. ... But I can say, with reasonable certainty, that weve seen Sammy in a baseball uniform for the last time.

February 2007: Signed with the Rangers. He hit .252 with 21 homers and 92 RBIs in 114 games that season, including No. 600 against Jason Marquis and the Cubs, joining Bonds, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and Willie Mays at that elite level.

Dec. 13, 2007: Escaped the Mitchell Report. George Mitchell, the former Democratic senator from Maine, wrote that he sent letters with specific questions to lawyers for Sosa, Bonds, Palmeiro, and Gary Sheffield, none of whom provided answers to my questions. That was the only time Sosas name was mentioned in the entire document.

June 4, 2009: Told ESPN Deportes he would soon announce his retirement, almost two years after his final game, and calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

June 16, 2009: The New York Times reported that hes among the group of players who tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug in 2003, citing anonymous lawyers familiar with the results from that year.

Jan. 9, 2013: That explosive story shattered the image, which wont be repaired by Wednesdays announcement. Was it worth it? According to the salary database at Baseball-Reference.com, Sosa made 124 million in his career.

Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip

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AP

Willson Contreras: King of the bat flip

Willson Contreras oozes swag.

The Cubs' fiery catcher has always worn his emotions on his sleeve and Friday was no exception.

Contreras hammered Carlos Martinez's 2-2 offering into the basket in left-center to give the Cubs an early 2-0 lead and his bat flip/reaction was incredible:

Here's a closer look:

It's funny that Contreras even reacted that way given the ball just *barely* got out, but hey, a homer's a homer.

Contreras has been flat-out raking since the All-Star Break, going 10-for-23 with five runs, three doubles, three homers and nine RBI. That's a .435/.480/.957 slash line and 1.437 OPS in the six second-half games he's played in.

That's boosted his season line to .276/.341/.496 (an .837 OPS) with 14 homers. He's on pace to drive in 85 runs, second only to Anthony Rizzo on the Cubs.

Yes, this truly is becoming "Willy's" team.

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Jose Quintana admits trade rumors have affected him negatively this season

Jose Quintana emerged from the third-base dugout, taking in Wrigley Field for the first time in a Cubs uniform.

But he quickly snapped back to Earth as he realized he and the other Cubs starting pitchers were to take batting practice and he forgot to bring his bat out.

Ah, the life of an American League pitcher.

It was no big deal, obviously. And minutes later, Quintana's new teammates were marveling at his swing. Even Jake Arrieta — who has five career homers (all during the last three seasons) and sported a .720 OPS last year — was impressed.

Quintana doesn't start until Sunday night against the St. Louis Cardinals, so he has two days to acclimate to Wrigley Field.

Which is good, because Quintana showed up for work today — he took Lake Shore Drive in (better known as LSD to Chicagoans) — and didn't even know where the players' entrance was:

But once he figured that out, he was all smiles, learning the lay of the land from Cubs traveling secretary Vijay Tekchandani.

It's also good for the 28-year-old left-hander to get some consistency in his life.

Everything will be easier from this point on after he admitted the trade rumors had been bouncing around his head all season.

"It was my first time [being mentioned in trades]," Quintana said. "I never heard anything about trades [before]. It was on my mind all the time. 

"[Until I realized] it's because I'm doing something good and teams want me. I just try to do my job in season. It's really hard when you have trade [rumors] around you, but for me, it's over now and I'm excited for that and really happy to be here."

The White Sox organization was all Quintana had known since 2006 and after watching as teammates Chris Sale and Adam Eaton were shipped out of town over the winter, it is easy to see how it would've been tough dealing with the uncertain future. 

Quintana entered this season with a career 3.41 ERA, but that mark sat at 5.60 through the first two months of the season as the trade rumors swirled.

But the veteran southpaw eventually figured it out — just like he said — and has been on fire since then, posting a 2.30 ERA with 57 strikeouts in 47 innings since the start of June.

His first game as a Cub — Sunday against the Orioles in Baltimore, still with a DH — resulted in 12 Ks across seven shutout innings.

Quintana is excited for his first start in a Cubs uniform at Wrigley Sunday night (so much so that he used the word "excited" at least seven times in his five-minute media session) and just recently got a few bats to put that BP prowess into action in a game.

He was pushed back a day, so he will completely miss the Crosstown series next week and will not pitch against his former mates. 

That might be the right move, as he admitted it would've been very difficult with the trade just over a week old by the time Monday's Crosstown opener comes along.

"It was difficult for me because I played there for six seasons," he said. "It wasn't easy when I heard [I was traded]. It was a little hard for me, but I understand it's part of business and this is the best for me, too.

"Trades happen for a reason and I'm really happy to be here with these teammates, this organization; they were champions last year. We have a really good chance this year. I'm excited to be here."

As for the trade rumors, Quintana is content now. Especially since he and his family don't even have to move.

"As my wife said," Quintana stated, "'You can sleep now.'"