I was too consumed with the finale of 3 terrific ballgames yesterday — Manny’s surprise cameo versus the Twins, the Angels’ latest late inning collapse against the Yankees, and Cliff Floyd & Carlos Beltran gaining a measure of revenge against Roy Oswalt and the Astros — to bother with the Hall of Fame Class of ’05 induction ceremonies. I’m still wondering, for example, whether Gammons’ plaque shows him wearing a Buffalo Tom shirt or a John Cougar concert tee.
Like Voldemort, the personification of evil in the Harry Potter series, mostly called He Who Must Not Be Named, Sammy Sosa’s name wasn’t voiced on Sunday, at least not by Ryne Sandberg.
But Sandberg (above), Sosa’s teammate for five years with the Cubs, nevertheless gave the greatest slugger in Cubs history a merciless beating in the speech he gave as he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
“When did it become OK for someone to hit home runs and forget how to play the rest of the game?” he asked.
Sandberg spoke about playing the game “right because that’s what you’re supposed to do” and said if his election into the Hall validates anything it’s that “learning how to bunt, hit-and-run and turning two is more important than knowing where to find the little red light [on] the dugout camera.”
Sandberg talked about being warned to avoid lifting weights in the winter because it would cost you flexibility and hurt your all-around ability. “In my day,” he said, “if you came to spring training 20 pounds heavier, you would have been in a lot of trouble.”
He called Andre Dawson’s MVP season with the Cubs in 1987 the most remarkable thing he has seen.
“He did it the right way, the natural way,” Sandberg said.
Sandberg mentioned nine of his former Cubs teammates during his speech. Sosa, who was on the rise in 1997, Sandberg’s final season, wasn’t among them. It’s fair to say he’s not a big fan of heart taps and blown kisses.
“You hit a home run, you drop the bat, put your head down and run around the bases because the name on the front of your uniform is a lot more important than the name on the back,” Sandberg said. “That’s respect.”
Asked afterward if he had been speaking about any players in particular, Sandberg flashed a quick smile. “Who did you have in mind?” he answered.
Though dumping on Sammy is certainly in fashion, students of recent history will recall that Sosa merely walked out on the Cubs on the last day of the season. Taking an entire year off, however, as Sandberg did in 1995, is something Sammy’s yet to try.