Expect Sosa to strike out in bid to sign on with team

December 04, 2006|By PETER SCHMUCK

I'm fairly certain that the Orioles will pass on Sammy Sosa, who said yesterday on ESPN's Outside the Lines that he's rested and ready to resume his major league career.

Can't argue with the rested part. Sosa has been out of the game for a year -- two if you count his performance in Baltimore in 2005. Now, he's eager to come back and continue his quest for 600 home runs, if only some franchise will overlook the fact that he can't hit anymore.

"I'm only 38 years old," he told ESPN reporter Pedro Gomez. "I'm an exciting player and I'm looking for a chance, and if I get that chance, you never know. I might hit you 40 or 50 [home runs], you never know."

It will be interesting to see if anybody even cares enough to find out. Sosa was once one of the most popular players in the game, but the best years of his career were spent under the cloud of steroid suspicion that has tainted -- fairly or not -- many of the top sluggers of his generation.

Sosa never tested positive for a banned substance, but three seasons with 60-plus home runs in four years will get you wondering, especially when there have been only four other 60-homer performances in the past half-century and two of them were by Mark "I don't want to talk about the past" McGwire.

Maybe it was a coincidence that Sosa's performance declined dramatically when baseball started a serious steroid-testing program. Maybe he just needed a year away from the sport to regain his strength, though a big comeback in 2007 probably would set tongues to wagging again.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if someone in baseball's central office quietly puts the word out to the 30 major league franchises that Sosa is not welcome back in the game, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Former Sen. George Mitchell announced last week that his investigation into baseball's steroid scandal is dragging because he does not have subpoena power to compel players to testify about illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

"When I began, I was, of course, aware that I do not have the power to compel testimony," Mitchell said in a statement released Friday. "From the outset I believed the absence of such power would significantly increase the amount of time necessary to complete the investigation, and it has."

It's probably impolite to say I told you so, but I was saying the same thing last spring when baseball got itself into this open-ended mess. Commissioner Bud Selig is now stuck seeing this expensive investigation through, when there is little chance Mitchell uncovers anything you won't hear about first from the concurrent criminal investigations.

No regrets

Some of my fellow Southern California fans called me a traitor for an earlier column in which I said that Michigan deserved another shot at Ohio State in the Bowl Championship Series title game, but I was pretty sure that this year's Trojans were not ready for that particular slot in prime time.

Their lackluster performance against an inspired-but-mediocre UCLA team on Saturday proved that, even if Michigan did not end up being the beneficiary. The Wolverines will have to settle for a traditional New Year's Day matchup against the Trojans in the Rose Bowl, which is just fine with us college football traditionalists.

No UM in Meineke

Local college football fans would love to have seen Maryland and Navy hook up in a bowl game, but it was not to be. The Terps were a candidate for the Meineke Car Care Bowl, but ended up elsewhere.

It's probably just as well for the Terps, who really didn't have much to gain from a matchup with the Mids. That much was obvious two years ago when only a missed tackle saved them from what would have been a discouraging early-season upset at M&T Bank Stadium.

Titans are tough

Titans coach Jeff Fisher ought to be in line for some kind of postseason honor for keeping his team motivated throughout what was supposed to be a lost season. The Titans aren't going anywhere, but they have won five games and have gone nose-to-nose with some of the top teams in the NFL.

Yesterday's victory over the Colts was no fluke. Tennessee took Indianapolis to the limit in their first meeting and lost by just one point. The Titans also came within a blocked field goal of beating the Ravens and rallied from 21 points down in the fourth quarter to defeat the Giants last week.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com.

The Peter Schmuck Show airs on WBAL (1090 AM) at noon on Saturdays.

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