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This is it, folks. The final installment of this series. Also the toughest for me to decide. I’m not going to waist your time with a bunch of names this time. We all know there are only 2 choices here. If you want to make your case for Matt Stairs or Jeromy Burnitz, , be my guest. So let’s talk turkey.

The Contenders

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Andre Dawson. After signing as a free-agent in 1987, Dawson had the best season of his career, leading the major leagues in home runs with 49 and runs batted in with 137, earning him National League MVP honors. A Hall-of-Fame inductee in 2010, Dawson hit 20 or more homers in each of his six seasons with the Cubs and drove in 100 or more runs three times.

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Sammy Sosa.  Sosa is the all-time franchise leader in home runs with 545 and ranks third in runs batted in and extra-base hits. He was named the NL MVP in 1998, when he hit 66 home runs and drove in a major-league best 158 runs. Sosa had three seasons in which he hit 60 or more home runs and two others when he hit 50 and 49. A seven-time All-Star, Sosa drove in 100 or more runs in nine straight seasons from 1995 to 2003.

That’s the tale of the tape. On the surface, Sosa clearly has the stats hands down. More years with the Cubs, more homers, more everything. The one area where Dawson has the edge, surprisingly enough, would be defense. Despite being older and in much worse physical condition than Sosa, Dawson patrolled right field better than anyone. The Hawk won 2 Gold Gloves with the Cubs in 1987 and 1988, adding to his previous 6 he brought over from Montreal. Both are former MVPs.  So who do I go with?

And the Winner Is….

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Andre Dawson. There is one other thing Sammy has a lot of that Dawson didn’t-baggage. Put the steroids stuff aside. Sammy has been reported to have not been the greatest teammate by numerous past players. Dawson was/is one of the most respected players to ever put on a uniform. Everyone saw the torture he had to put himself through day in and day out just to get on the field with his deteriorated  knees. Sammy played loud Salsa music in the clubhouse. Andre Dawson is one of only eight players in Major League history to record over 300 home runs and 300 stolen bases in his career (300-300 Club); the other players to accomplish this are Carlos Beltran, Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonds, Steve Finley, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, and Reggie Sanders. Sosa rewarded himself after a 30 home run 30 stolen base season with a giant gold “30/30” necklace he liked to wear. Dawson was inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2010. I have my doubts about Sosa ever getting in. In a recent interview, Sosa was asked point blank about the PED question. He dodged it, stating he had never tested positive in this country. Whatever that’s supposed to mean. He had his chance right there to come clean, apologize, and probably be welcomed back into the fold at Clark and Addison. He refused. I hung my head when I saw this. Meanwhile Dawson rejoined the Cubs organization last year, after being fired from his position of special assistant for baseball operations with the Marlins the previous 6 years when the Derek Jeter group assumed ownership of the team.

Back in the day, there wasn’t a bigger Sammy Sosa fan than me, and I pre-date the 1998 home run chase on this. I have also been an advocate for the so-called PED players such as Sosa, Barry Bonds, and many more being placed in the Hall of Fame. I stand by this, but that aforementioned interview really bothered me. If Sammy would just admit what he did, apologize, and show some humility, I firmly believe the Cubs would welcome him back. Instead, he sidesteps questions and wants a statue outside of Wrigley Field.

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Then I look at Andre Dawson. A man who’s knees were shot the day he entered the Majors. Yet he worked his ass off to make himself a Hall of Famer. When he was desperate to get off the artificial turf in Montreal, he bet on himself and gave the Cubs a blank contract. They payed him $500,000 base salary for 1987, a ridiculously low contract even in those days for a Rookie of the Year, 6 time Gold Glove winner, and perennial All Star. The Hawk didn’t do it for the money. He did it for the love and passion for the game of baseball. Not only am I proud to name Dawson my right fielder on this all time team, he’s my captain. And I guarantee every single player I have named to this team would agree 100%.

Andre Dawson Hall of Fame Plaque

Andre may wear an Expos cap on his plaque, but he is, was, and always will be a Cub to not only me, but millions of Cubs fans everywhere.

Let me say in closing to this article and the entire series, I have thoroughly enjoyed putting this team together, and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed following it. I appreciate the feedback I have gotten on my choices, both agreement and disagreement. Who knows? Maybe if I do this team again in say 20 years, some current Cubs might unseat some of the players on the team now.

 

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