FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME
I was never a huge fan of Sammy [Sosa], but the Cubs threw him under the bus in 2004 [Sammy Agonistes, by Shane Tritsch, September]. Some of that stuff should have stayed internal.
It’s unfortunate the distaste people have for him in Chicago. Was he all about Sammy? Sure, but the Cubs were cool with that—as long as he was a show pony. (Actually, his self-centered attitude reminds me of [Brett] Favre, but since Favre is a good ole boy, he can never be hated.)
I don’t think Sammy is to blame. The whole world got caught up in this home run thing in the late 1990s. After the strike, baseball needed something to get people watching again, and McGwire and Sosa did that. And they were encouraged to do it, with their managers and coaches turning a blind eye to their bulky growth. Their teams didn’t care as long as people were coming to see them and [buying] tickets.
I’ve been a Cubs fan since I was a little kid, but I’m disappointed in how they have treated Sosa since he left [the team]. I don’t think steroids are right, and those guys who have been proven to have used them shouldn’t be allowed into the Hall of Fame, but I don’t blame [Sosa] for doing what he had to, to get to the position he was. The fans loved it. The media loved it. The team loved it, until all of a sudden steroid use became the worst thing a ballplayer could do.
Half Moon Bay, California
I was once one of [Sosa]’s biggest fans. I [now] regret being such a Sosa supporter, as his habit of not answering the real questions became quite aggravating. It’s hard to respect a man who would rather run than explain himself.
Another impetus to Sosa’s desire to go for the home run record may have been an article in Time magazine in July 1998. It featured Mark McGwire on the cover, along with his then-assumed rival Ken Griffey Jr. Sammy was an afterthought, relegated to a sidebar story. Perhaps Sammy’s real goal was not so much beating McGwire but proving the pundits wrong about Griffey (who did indeed fade out in the stretch).
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
I cooked [Nutraloaf] for a “weird food potluck” using the vegetarian recipe used by the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center [“Justice Is Bland,” Outer Drive, by Jeff Ruby, September]. Making the stuff is somehow slightly more disgusting than eating it. When you make the wet mix before baking, it has a smell that can only be described as institutional.
Eating it, on the other hand, is so boring that after half a pound, somehow none of the signals [that] tell us we’re eating what’s good for us have been triggered. I knew, intellectually, that my needs had been met, [and] my stomach was signaling that I was full, but somehow I still needed to find food. My instincts knew that [Nutraloaf] wasn’t food, even though it meets the Michael Pollan definition: “Your great-grandmother would recognize all of the ingredients as food.”
It was a very unsettling reaction. I can understand why it’s not considered cruel, but, man, after a week of that stuff I’d be desperate for the taste of salt, sugar, fat—anything else.
Elf M. Sternberg
Nutraloaf could be used to save the government a vast sum of money: Replace food stamps with free Nutraloaf. Make it freely available everywhere and to everyone. Those who don’t need it won’t eat it; those who refuse to eat it because it’s not tasty clearly don’t need food assistance.
>> In August’s Top 40, “Chicago’s Got Game,” the distance of Lew Worsham’s championship-winning eagle was 130 yards, not feet.
>> The contact information in September’s Reporter column for the tour of the Century of Progress homes (below) was incorrect. For reservations, visit centuryofprogresshomes.eventbrite.com.