Maybe Sosa shouldn't be so calm

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After spending the last six months or so sitting around waiting for his phone to ring, Sammy Sosa is finally ready to call it quits.

He’ll walk away with quite a resume:
609 home runs (sixth all-time), three seasons with more than 60 home
runs, seven All-Star appearances, one MVP award. Clearly, Hall of Fame
numbers.

He’ll also carry with him, however, the stigma of steroid abuse.
None of it concrete or proven, mind you, but a large enough pile of
circumstantial evidence to raise plenty of suspicions.

In comments made Wednesday to ESPN, Sosa was already engaged in a
preemptive attack on anyone who would doubt his candidacy for
Cooperstown.

“Everything I achieved, I did it thanks to my perseverance, which is
why I never had any long, difficult moments [as a baseball player]. If
you have a bad day in baseball, and start thinking about it, you will
have ten more.

“I will calmly wait for my induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Don’t I have the numbers to be inducted?”

It’s an odd turn of phrase, and likely little more than bluster. Anyone
who would “calmly” wait out such an honor would not feel the need to
announce it to the world. Sammy Sosa is going on the offensive, while
sounding quite defensive about it.

In a thoughtful column for the Chicago Sun-Times, Chris De Luca takes Sosa to task. He has some questions for Sosa that he’d like answered.

Why, De Luca asks, didn’t Sosa meet with Sen. George Mitchell?

Why would Jose Canseco – who has been proven correct on a number of steroid issues – say that the physical changes in Sosa’s body clearly point to use of performance-enhancers?

Why, given the chance to confront the allegations, would Sosa take a pass?

While Sosa is calmly waiting for his induction to the Hall of Fame
— he can expect some anxious moments — he better either keep his
mouth shut on the subject of steroids or be willing to take the
allegations against him head-on.

So is Sosa a Hall of Famer? If it were solely up to the numbers, the question would be ridiculous. First ballot, no problem.

But as Mark McGwire has found out, it’s not going to be that easy. When
Sosa’s name comes up on the ballot in five years, voters will be faced
with these two questions:

1. Do you believe Sammy Sosa took performance-enhancing drugs?
2. Does it matter?

In the next five years, more information could come forth either
damning or absolving Sosa on the first question. It’s unlikely, but
possible.

So it will probably come down to the second question. Does it matter? Keep in mind, voters are asked to consider character.

Voting — Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character, and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played.

So far, based on the actions of Hall of Famer voters, it does indeed
matter. Unless Sosa comes up with a good explanation, he would be
advised to not sit and wait so calmly.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.

For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.

Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.

Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.

The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.