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.

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon’s messaging to Cubs before the 2017 campaign

Joe Maddon's Washington itinerary didn't include an hour-long sit-down with Chuck Todd for NBC's "Meet the Press." There would be no rehashing the manager's Game 7 decisions as he stood outside the West Wing, though the second question during the media stakeout involved "last year's team" and how the 2017 Cubs are prepared to defend a World Series title.

"You're already there, huh?" Maddon said to a CNN reporter, minutes after President Barack Obama's final official White House event ended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

But last year's team is gone — preserved now in highlight films and the hearts and minds of generations of Cub fans — even if so many familiar faces will be in Mesa when pitchers and catchers officially report to Arizona on Valentine's Day.

It would be impossible to replicate everything that made the 2016 Cubs so special. Baseball has its own relentless pace and the dynamics are constantly shifting. (Remember when players were passive-aggressively complaining about Maddon's spring-training approach during the final week of a 103-win regular season?) The clubhouse chemistry will inevitably feel different after climbing a Mount Everest of professional sports.

"A mind once stretched has a very difficult time going back to its original form," Maddon said. "We're motivated by it. We want to do it again, of course. There's no question we're trying to do that.

"I'm really leaning on the phrase or the thought of being uncomfortable. I want us to be uncomfortable. I think the moment you get into your comfort zone after having such a significant moment in your life like that, the threat is that you're going to stop growing.

"So I really want us to be uncomfortable. I really want to continue (to see) a pattern of growth and really try to get at them very quickly again."

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Can Jason Heyward recover from one of the worst offensive seasons in the majors last year? Is Willson Contreras ready to be a frontline catcher? Will Javier Baez have to adjust back to being a role player after becoming a playoff superstar? Does Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot and Albert Almora Jr. and Jon Jay in a center-field timeshare represent an upgrade over Dexter Fowler?

If healthy, Wade Davis should be a trusted, lower-maintenance closer than Aroldis Chapman, with an advanced approach to pitching and more clubhouse presence. As a staff, the Cubs will have to bounce back from pitching into early November (or not, in the case of the relievers Maddon didn't trust during the playoffs).

As it stands, Jon Lester (33) and John Lackey (38) have already combined to throw almost 5,000 innings in The Show (including the postseason). Jake Arrieta will have to deal with the pressure of playing for his megadeal in his final season before becoming a free agent.

The drop-off after Mike Montgomery — and it's still mostly projected potential with the No. 5 starter — appears to be very steep in an organization that doesn't have any high-end pitching prospects in the upper levels of the farm system.

After painting the bull's-eye on the chest and turning "Embrace The Target" and "Try Not To Suck" into viral T-shirts, a guy who hates meetings is still working on his themes for this campaign.

"I'm really rotating around the thought of authenticity," Maddon said. "I talked about it a lot last year, the fact that I think authenticity has a chance to repeat itself without even trying. It's part of who you are. It's not fabricated. It's real.

"I've talked about our guys a lot the last couple years. I think one of our strongest qualities is the authentic component of our players. So I'm really focusing on that word right now. Again, that's a great word to bring an entire message from (when) you get in front of the group that first day in spring training.

"I kind of just think like authenticity happens. And let's work it from there."

The costumes should be in midseason form with Maddon planning a house party around Tampa's Gasparilla Pirate Festival before driving his RV from Florida to Arizona.

Maddon will turn 63 on Feb. 8 and have to keep evolving, just like his players, who might outgrow some of those gimmicks. But the Cubs are still a reflection of their future Hall of Fame manager.

Amid all the uncertainty in Washington, Maddon wouldn't touch a question about what advice he would give Donald Trump before Friday's inauguration.

"I'm not even going to go anywhere close to that," Maddon said. "I will say this: I have a lot of respect of the office.

"At the end of the day, just have a lot of respect for the office, regardless of your political persuasion. My point would be to encourage people to really respect the office and let's see what we get done here over the next four years."

CSN Chicago will live stream Cubs, White Sox games in 2017

CSN Chicago will live stream Cubs, White Sox games in 2017

CSN will live stream Cubs and White Sox games plus pre and postgame shows throughout the 2017 season.

This is thrilling news for all Chicago baseball fans and comes at an absolutely perfect time for a Cubs fanbase that will spend the rest of the year reveling in the 2016 World Series championship.

White Sox fans will also gain more opportunities to get up-close looks at the future as the South Siders continue on with their rebuild.

Both teams and the pre and post shows will be streamed on CSNChicago.com and the NBC Sports app.

CSN already streams Bulls and Blackhawks games and pre/post shows.

"We are thrilled to launch live streaming of our Chicago White Sox and Cubs telecasts beginning this MLB season," said Phil Bedella, Vice President/General Manager of CSN Chicago. "With live streaming currently offered for our Bulls and Blackhawks telecasts, the addition of MLB streaming further illustrates our commitment to provide our viewers with the most in-depth and compelling Cubs and White Sox content in and out of the home and on any device."

The complete CSN broadcasting schedules for Cubs and White Sox telecasts will be released over the next couple weeks.

"We are very pleased that our partners at CSN will be able to provide fans with the opportunity to watch the White Sox anywhere," White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. "Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for fans to watch their White Sox, regardless of where they are or what they are doing.  Sports fans deserve to see all the action all season long."

"After such a historic season, we are thrilled Cubs fans will be able to stream games on their choice of device, either inside or outside the home," Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said. "This access has been years in the making for our fans, but the timing is awfully good given the excitement around the 2017 campaign."

For more information, check out the complete press release.