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Columnist
Sosa, Ramirez and a whole lot of hypocrisy
By Mike Imrem | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 8/24/2010 9:09 PM

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Baseball's split personality over performance-enhancing drugs surfaced again Tuesday in Chicago.

Concerning the North Side, Sammy Sosa reportedly criticized the Cubs for throwing "me into the fire."

Concerning the South Side, the White Sox reportedly are interested in claiming Manny Ramirez off waivers.

Sosa for years has been suspected of having used steroids. Ramirez has been suspended for using a banned substance.

In a Chicago Magazine spread, Sosa expressed disgust that the Cubs haven't moved to retire his No. 21 jersey.

This sparked a debate among Cubs fans around town over whether Sosa should be honored next to the likes of Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg.

My inclination is to say, yes, he should. Why not? All of Sosa's home runs still are in the history books, aren't they?

So are suspicions Sosa used steroids. So is his corked bat. So is his leaving the ballpark once before a game was over.

But the teams that won World Series with cheating players remain champions, and the commissioner who was in charge back then remains the commissioner.

I watched Sosa, Ramirez, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and all the other usual suspects perform. I saw them do all the things they did, including Sosa do everything that he pointed out to Chicago Magazine.

"They put me out there like I was a bad guy," Sosa said of the Cubs now, "when all I did all my whole life was play hard and give everything I had for the organization and for the people of Chicago."

Sosa is mostly correct, which is significant if you read his claim a day after current Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano loafed an inside-the-park home run into a triple.

Maybe Sosa exaggerated and maybe there were isolated instances when he didn't hustle for the Cubs - but honestly I can't remember them.

Anyway, Cubs fans and fans around the country cheered Sosa despite suspecting he was on steroids when he was at his peak. They even cheered Sosa after he was caught corking his bat.

The cheering stopped only after Sosa left the ballpark prematurely, certainly a transgression but not exactly a federal offense.

Even then two more teams, the Orioles and the Rangers, acquired him despite his controversial past.

Yet the Cubs haven't been inspired to have anything to do with Sosa these days. Giving them the benefit of doubt, maybe they're merely waiting for the right time to renew their relationship.

Meanwhile, when it comes to Ramirez a good guess is the Cubs would do the same thing the Sox supposedly are considering doing if he could help bring a World Series to Wrigley Field.

The Cubs would acquire Ramirez if they thought he could slug them to the postseason without disrupting the clubhouse.

The Dodgers brought Ramirez to L.A. two years ago, went to the playoffs, swept the Cubs, marketed him and generated a lot of revenue.

Apparently it's all right to employ a player like Ramirez, who was suspected of using banned substances and then caught doing so.

But it's also all right to later shun a player like Sosa and deny him honors, which likely also will be Ramirez's fate when his career ends.

Maybe it's just me, but that sure seems hypocritical.