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Circle of Life

By Benjy Lipsman in News on Jan 17, 2007 4:23PM

Chicagoist can't get that damn Lion King story out of our head now, but "Circle of Life" was the first thing that we thought when we heard that former Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa is about to sign a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers in hopes of returning to "the show."

2007_01_sports_sosa_return.jpgWay back when, before Sosa played for the White Sox, and long before he became the home-run hitter with the action figure body, he was a scrawny young 16-year-old prospect signed to a minor league deal by the Texas Rangers in 1985.

Sosa broke into the Major League with the Rangers in 1989, where he played the first 25 games of his career. The Rangers shipped Sosa to the Sox in July of that year along with Scott Fletcher and Wilson Alvarez, in return for Harold Baines and Fred Manrique. The Sox traded Sosa to the Northsiders in return for George Bell just before the start of the 1992 season. After 13 mostly illustrious years with the Cubs, he wore out his welcome in the clubhouse and ended up playing for the Baltimore Orioles in 2005.

When Sosa's diminished play and shrinking physique — whether related to age or ending his 'roid use — did not coincide with a shrinking of his ego, nobody wanted his services enough in 2006 to offer him a Major League contract. He did turn down a minor league deal from the Washington Nationals, choosing to sit the season out.

Was Sammy really so humbled by nobody wanting his services last year that he's now willing to sign a minor league deal? Maybe the ego has finally aligned with the skills. Maybe he's that confident that he's finally healthy enough to regain a spot on a Major League roster. On the other hand, we see his ego driving him towards the 600 Home Run plateau, and with only 12 more needed to reach that milestone, he feels he could do so by playing one more year. Not that doing so is likely to improve his odds of entering the Hall of Fame.