With all due respect to Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Slammin'
Sammy Sosa is the most electrifying man in the history of
Sports Entertainment. When I first saw him work in
Arlington, Texas, I thought "Sam Sosa" was just some jobber
who would get stuck with a new gimmick every few months.
They tried booking him in this cheap Bash Brothers ripoff
with Frank Thomas on the White Sox. That went nowhere. It
was just bad booking and everyone in the business knew Frank
could be a star with better booking, so they let him do the
Big Hurt gimmick that got so over we forgot about his
I figured the career of Sammy was
given a death sentence when they booked him on the North
Side. How could this foreign kid gt over when you had Ryno
as the 40-year-old babyface champ in that merket? But
Slammin' Sammy proved the bookers wrong. He'd walk up to the
plate wearing gold chains with a cocky spring in his walk,
he'd break windows and shake off the stop signs of the base
coach — classic heel stuff. But his workrate was so
energetic that he was getting huge pops as a midcard guy.
They could have Sammy strike out 200 times — and they did —
and it didn't matter: when Sammy hopped out of the batter's
box, the fans hopped with him.
I'll be honest, when
Bud Selig did that swerve replacing Ken Griffey Jr. with
Sammy in the Big Mac feud, I was against it. I thought
Junior was the best in the business, I thought he deserved
the Home Run Title, and I ended up being right that it
buried the character of Junior. But none of that was the
fault of Sammy and Sammy ended up capitalizing on finally
getting a main event push.
Sammy Sosa and Mark
McGwire took the struggling business into a new golden age.
They were getting the biggest pops you ever heard in every
stadium, and those two men had the best chemistry I have
ever seen between talents. We still haven't seen anyone as
over as 98-01 Sammy Sosa.
I didn't start giving
credit to the mind Sammy had for the business during that
boom period because that era was so big for everyone, but he
convinced me of his creative genius when things started
getting stale by 02, so he turned heel with that corked bat
in 03. Here's a guy who didn't even need to speak English to
hold every crowd in the palm of his hand just a year ago and
he's out there getting major heat at Wrigley of all venues.
Not even Steve Austin could get fans to boo him when he
was one of those once-in-a-lifetime guys in this business.
Anyone who wants to understand the art of professional
baseball should be required to watch old Sammy Sosa tapes.