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The Cardinals have welcomed back Mark McGwire, will the Cubs ever do the same with Sammy Sosa?

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The disparity was made painfully clear in the final minutes of ESPN’s “Long Gone Summer.”

Mark McGwire, winner of the 1998 home run race, is visibly emotional as he is inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame. Sammy Sosa, the race’s runner-up, sits at home after years of distance from the Chicago Cubs.

The two men’s intertwining careers have somehow left them in completely different places, except when it comes to their shunning from the Hall of Fame. McGwire spent nearly a decade in the majors as a coach for three different teams and is always welcome back at Busch Stadium.

Meanwhile, much of Sosa’s notoriety since his retirement has centered around reactions to his skin color, often without knowledge of the role played by colorism in the Dominican Republic.

It all begs the question that many Cubs fans have asked in recent years. What will it take for Sosa to be celebrated at Wrigley Field again?

Cubs owners want a confession from Sammy Sosa

Sosa’s Cubs career ended on bad terms in 2004 when a difficult season ended with the slugger leaving Wrigley Field shortly after first pitch. The team traded its all-time home run leader to the Baltimore Orioles months later.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been asked about Sosa’ possible return in recent years, and his reaction in 2016 was similar to the one in 2018, and would likely be similar to the one in 2020. In order to be welcomed back, Sosa would need to own up to taking performance-enhancing drugs, like McGwire did in 2010.

After acknowledging his transgressions, McGwire was allowed back into the game. Barry Bonds has received similar treatment, getting a hitting coach job with the Marlins and a spot on the San Francisco Giants Hall of Fame.

Sosa has made it clear that he has no interest in making such an admission, denying he ever took PEDs during his playing career. In response to Ricketts in 2018, Sosa apologized, but didn’t exactly say what he was apologizing for:

“The ownership they have to understand that I’m a humble man, I’m not a man to have ego, when I was playing I was a little bit because I was focused on what I was trying to do,” Sosa said. “But right now I’m gonna be 50 years old. I’m a granddaddy, I’m a grandparent, so things change. So if I made a mistake, I don’t have to say that, but if I made a mistake, I didn’t want to offend any body, I don’t have a problem with that, I’m sorry because you know, I was in my zone.”

Hard to imagine that helped Sosa’s cause at all with Ricketts.

4 Oct 2003: Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs during the Cubs 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Braves in game 3 of the NLDS at Wrigley Field in Chicago, IL.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)
The Cubs have held their all-time home run leader at arm's length since trading him away in 2005. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

When asked by Scott Van Pelt on “SportsCenter” following the airing of “Long Gone Summer,” Sosa implied that a change in ownership was more likely to end his exile than what Ricketts wants.

“I think that time is going to come. I’m looking forward. I expect in the near future, they bring me back to Chicago,” Sosa said. “I’ll be fine. But I believe time will heal everything. My case is not a hard case to look at. I believe in the near future, somebody, a new owner or somebody is going to bring me back. I believe so.”

That day may be near, or it may never come. Honestly, “Long Gone Summer” might have been the best chance for Sosa to make an admission for a while, and it didn’t happen.

We’ll just have to wait and see if there’s ever a change of heart, whomever it may be.

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