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Thursday, May 23
The Indiana Daily Student

Without Beltran, Cubs lose again

Oh, if only Mr. Sammy Sosa could live in his dream season of 1998 forever. \nI'm sure you all remember those magical 162 games where Slammin' Sammy and Mark McGuire duked it out like a couple of heavyweight boxers for the home run title. Sosa went on to hit 66 homers that year, win the National League MVP, and lead his team to the playoffs.\nFans fell in love with his happy-go-lucky smile and his tradition of sprinting out to right field and putting his mitt to his ear to hear the crowd's roar before each game at Wrigley Field. But just like anyone believing Ashlee Simpson can actually sing, those days are over. The ovations and home runs have been replaced with strikeouts and cork.\nSome fans began to turn on their beloved Dominican superstar after his corked bat incident in the 2003 season. Sosa found himself in the middle of a large offensive drought at the time but most fans bought his claim that he accidentally grabbed his batting practice bat on that fateful June day. It was Sammy after all, their Sammy. I never bought it for a second. In fact, I've never bought Sammy's 'baseball been berry berry good to me' image.\nSosa didn't do anything to help his image in the 2004 season. Sosa had more strikeouts than games played and walked out on his team during the second inning of the Cubs last game of the season against Atlanta and lied about it. Surveillance video proved otherwise. He spent a significant part of the year on the bench due to a back injury from well, eh, sneezing. Sosa's sneeze injury is more pathetic than that of my little-league catcher, who when I was 12, didn't play in one of our games because he "slept wrong" and was unable to move his neck.\nIt was all starting to make sense to Cubs fans. They finally were beginning to see what it was like for those living beyond the "Cubbie blue bubble." (As a lifelong White Sox fan, I know what it is like to be the target of Cub fan hatred.) \nSammy showed up late to spring training many years and even though fellow Cub players asked him to stop blasting his boombox in the clubhouse, he didn't. Fans and the organization overlooked these acts from the man with the ego as large as his homeland. As long as he was hitting home runs and appeared in Pepsi commercials, it didn't seem to matter to them.\nNot anymore.\nEnter Carlos Beltran. The Royals traded him to the Astros to help them during their push for the playoffs this past season. Beltran shined with his exceptional performance in the playoffs. He became a modern day Mr. October hitting .435 with eight home runs and playing a gold glove-worthy center field. \nAfter the Cubs lost Mosies Alou to San Fransisco this off-season, they are looking for a player to fill the hole left by their top RBI and home run man from 2004. With more than 3 million fans attending games at the friendly confines this summer, the Cubs should have had more than enough money to offer Beltran. Right? Wrong. And that Sosa guy can be blamed for it.\nSosa's contract calls for $16 million this season and $17 million in 2006. Because of their inability to trade Sosa, their offer to Beltran was embarassingly low. Beltran singed with the Mets Sunday for a whopping $119 million over seven years.\nAny hope of unloading Sosa to another team declined with the signing of Beltran. The Mets were the team most interested in him, but after they acquired Beltran they have lost interest in the Cubs right fielder. The Orioles are another team that might take Sosa away from Chicago. The Cubs are still looking to possibly acquire ex-White Sox star Magglio Ordonez to fill Alou's void. \nWithout Beltran, the Cubs should still be able to contend for the NL Central title this season. They did lose starter Matt Clement to the Red Sox, but holding onto the foursome of Prior, Wood, Zambrano and Maddux and securing Nomar Garciaparra for another season should keep them in contention. But they'll probably blow it, because, well -- they're the Cubs.\nIf Sosa sticks around for the Cubs' 2005 campaign, what will happen when he runs out to right field glove to ear during the Cubs home opener against Milwaukee? \nI can hear the boos already.

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