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Sammy Sosa was crazy like a fox

Dec 28, 2009, 10:28 AM EDT

There’s an article up at the New York Times about the 2005 steroid hearings before Congress. Good stuff that attempts to put it all in perspective at the end of the decade. But I still gotta take issue with one often-repeated sentiment about those hearings:

Sosa said he had never taken steroids and suggested that he was not all
too familiar with speaking English, lending some comedy to the
proceedings.

Take it for what it’s worth, but it’s not true that Sosa denied taking steroids before Congress. He said “To be clear, I have never taken illegal
performance-enhancing drugs.” He said “I have not broken the laws of
the United States or the laws of the Dominican Republic.” He said “I have been
tested as recently as 2004, and I am clean.”

Those statements — and
many others he made during his testimony — allow for the possibility
that he used substances that were legal in the Dominican Republic that
would have been illegal to use in the United States. Those substances could have been steroids of various stripes. We don’t know for sure because no one on that Congressional committee asked the basic sorts of followup questions that even junior lawyers are trained to ask. It was a big show to them, not a serious legal proceeding.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Sosa wasn’t trying to give the impression that he hadn’t taken steroids. Clearly he was trying to walk a very, very thin line between admitting using PEDs and committing perjury. It won’t get him any popularity votes, but he did, technically speaking, pull it off, and by doing so he was able to avoid any sort of perjury beef when his name popped up on the list last summer.

And though it is now characterized as “comedy,” the reason he was likely able to pull it off: his Spanish testimony.  Those distinctions — I didn’t take illegal PEDs; I didn’t break the laws of the D.R. or the U.S. — were fairly subtle.  They could have been easily messed up if he spoke in his second language instead of his native tongue. No matter how funny you found it, Sosa’s decision to testify in Spanish was pretty smart from a legal perspective.

  1. Victor Conte - Dec 28, 2009 at 10:39 AM

    Quit bashing white people.

  2. Paul in KY - Dec 28, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    Anyone who is in a legal proceeding & is not fluent in the language of the legal proceeding should speak in their native language & hope a compentent transalator is available.
    Mr. Sosa either already realized this or received sound advice.

  3. Old Gator - Dec 28, 2009 at 11:17 AM

    I’ll always miss that little “hop” of his when he crushed a pitch, with his arms rising like he was either going to flap them and fly away or maybe he had developed a messianic complex and was trying to jump onto a crucifix like an extra from Life of Brian. And anyway, I thought he answered those questions pretty well. It’s hard to think on your toes when Biggith Dickith is flinging interrogatories at you.
    .
    .
    But really, listen to Casey Stengel’s testimony before the Kefauver Commission some time and tell me again how canny Sammy was. I think Casey had him beat by a mile.

  4. Alex K - Dec 28, 2009 at 12:52 PM

    I agree 100%
    Even if I was fluent in a language I would still speak in my native language. I would want as small of a chance as possible to misstate something. I’ve never understood why people thought that him speaking Spanish was funny….

  5. Tony A - Dec 28, 2009 at 1:13 PM

    AND, while perhaps not as subtle as Sosa with his testimony, Big Mac is starting to look like one of the smarter people at the hearing that day…
    To reinforce OG’s comment, in my near 60 years of watching baseball, no other player entertained me as much as Sammy did during his Cub’s years. He even managed to make home run contests memorable…

  6. Dirck - Dec 28, 2009 at 4:32 PM

    Sammy Sosa is a totally phony piece of crud .

  7. theresa - Dec 28, 2009 at 6:39 PM

    how is he phony

  8. theresa - Dec 28, 2009 at 6:42 PM

    who are u talking about cuz sammie sosa is not white

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