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Evil Dr. Len
02-03-2005, 07:08 AM
BALTIMORE -- Sammy Sosa buttoned his new Orioles jersey, with his customary 21 on the back, glanced at his family and pulled down his fitted cap. The first words he uttered into the microphone, with many fans in baseball-crazed Baltimore listening attentively, was "How do I look?"
It's safe to say their response would be "like a superstar."

Sporting his trademark smile and determined to put his troubles in Chicago behind him, Sosa was introduced as the Orioles' new right fielder after the trade for Jerry Hairston and two minor leaguers became official on Wednesday afternoon.

The trade, one of the most significant transactions in club history, boosts the spirits of an organization after a difficult offseason. Sosa's presence gives the Orioles one of the most imposing lineups in baseball as he joins All-Star Miguel Tejada, fellow 500-home-run man Rafael Palmeiro and standout catcher Javy Lopez.

After a troublesome season in Chicago, the Cubs put him on the trading block and Sosa said Baltimore was his first choice. The Orioles and Cubs began talking seriously about a deal last Thursday and the trade was agreed upon on Friday.

Sosa had an acrimonious relationship with Cubs manager Dusty Baker and angered many Cubs fans by leaving the team's final game of the 2004 season after 15 minutes. Sosa refused to say anything negative about his experience in Chicago, despite being peppered with questions about his final years as a Cub.

The Orioles had little hesitation in making the deal. They will pay Sosa just $8.85 million of the $25 million owed to him in 2005 and he is expected to make a major impact on their club. The two sides have not discussed a contract after the 2005 season.

Before his difficult ending, Sosa was a fan favorite in Chicago, thrilling fans by running full speed to right field before the first pitch of every home game and patting of the heart and lips after smashing a home run.

"Will I do that here?" he said. "If the fans in right field want me to."

Sosa will play right field with Jay Gibbons moving to first base and Palmeiro becoming the primary designated hitter.

Sosa emerged on baseball's landscape in 1996, when he became the first Cub in six years to hit 40 home runs. It was the 1998 season, however, that permanently placed him in baseball lore.

In a home-run race that rivaled Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris from 37 years previous, Sosa and Mark McGwire furiously pursued Maris' record of 61 home runs in a season. McGwire was the first to get there and eventually finished with 70. Sosa walloped 66 and was awarded the National League MVP award after leading the Cubs to the Wild Card.

After that season, Sosa catapulted into superstardom, becoming one of the elite power hitters of his generation. And he backed that up with 63 home runs in 1999 and 64 in 2001 with a 50-homer season sandwiched in between.

Sosa was untouchable, a Chicago icon, a celebrity who came from poverty in the Dominican Republic and did commercials encouraging tourism to his native land.

However, Sosa's fortunes and his image would change quickly. After hitting 49 homers in 2002, Sosa was helping the Cubs' division title run in June 2003 when he sliced his bat hitting a ground ball against Tampa Bay. Umpires found cork in the bat and Sosa was suspended for 10 games.

Sosa heard his share of critics after a subpar 2004, but did produce 35 home runs in 126 games. He missed a month with a strained back ligament sustained while sneezing. :sure:

Sosa is 26 homers away from becoming the fifth Major Leaguer to hit 600 and should reach that milestone this season. He scoffed at critics who said his production is in decline after an injury plagued 2004 season.

Esks4ever
02-03-2005, 07:19 AM
Man the O's seem like they are going to be a good team.. perhaps solidlfy their pitchers a bit and they'll do good. Now with Sosa the American league will probally see a little spike in attendance, because everyone will want to see Sosa.

lloyd
02-03-2005, 11:52 AM
Sosa.... pfffft. Ever since his record year he's been sliding, and corking.

esks4life
02-03-2005, 08:18 PM
Surprised he didnt go to the Yankees.