When one door closes, another opens?
As far as ex-Cubs slugger Sammy Sosa’s Hall of Fame candidacy goes, maybe.
Sosa was not elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame this week, falling short in his final season of eligibility on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot.
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While one annual, decade-long debate is over, it’s not the end of Sosa’s candidacy.
If players aren’t elected via the writers’ ballot after 10 years, they’re eligible for induction through the veterans' committee process, which recognizes players, managers, executives and umpires from four separate eras.
Sosa falls under the Today’s Era Committee, an umbrella that covers those in the game from 1988 to the present.
The Today’s Era Committee is a 16-person panel comprising Hall of Famers, current executives and veteran media members. The group meets twice every five years at baseball's Winter Meetings — including 2022.
Each committee member may vote up to four candidates. The induction threshold is 75 percent, like the BBWAA ballot.
It’s certainly an avenue for Sosa to reach Cooperstown. That doesn’t mean he faces better chances.
The first hurdle is simply reaching the ballot. The Historical Overview Committee (10-12 veteran writers and historians chosen by the BBWAA) selects 10 candidates for the committee to consider.
If Sosa does make the ballot, there’s no indication anyone will stand up for him in the near term. His resume is worthy of consideration — he’s one of nine players to hit more than 600 home runs — but his legacy is tied to the steroid era.
The New York Times reported in 2009 that Sosa tested positive for performance enhancing drugs in 2003 anonymous survey testing. He has denied taking PEDs, however.
Beside the steroids factor, the committee has other candidates to consider and a limited number of votes.
Former Cubs manager Lou Piniella would seem to be a favorite going into this year after missing election by one vote four years ago this December.
Bruce Bochy, a three-time World Series champion as the Giants manager, is another strong candidate.
Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling are also all up for consideration. Like Sosa, they fell short this week in their final year on the writers’ ballot.
BBWAA ballots aren’t necessarily indicators for the committee’s voting. But Bonds, Clemens and Schilling came much closer to induction by the writers in recent years, receiving over three times as many votes as Sosa in 2021 and 2022.
Whether the committee would elect any of those four, less than a year after they fell off the writers’ ballot, is a whole different question.
Sosa faces an uphill climb. With the sentiment around players from the steroid era changing, he’ll likely be in the conversation for enshrinement. His resume also includes an MVP award, seven All-Star nods and six Silver Slugger Awards.
There's no time limit for how long players are eligible through the veterans' committees. It took more than a decade for Ron Santo to get elected after falling off the writers' ballot in the late 1990s.
Tony Oliva was elected by the most recent veterans' committee process in December after falling off the writers' ballot in 1996.
At the very least, this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Sosa's candidacy for the Hall. He could make it someday.