Access to Sammy Sosa's house is not
strictly about us, Sammy Sosa's Playhouse.
It is about you, the Playhouse Faithful. We
are your extension into the world of Sammy
Sosa, your conduit for gaining a deeper
understanding of the right fielder we enjoy
stalking so much.
Before going any further, I will state the obvious: The last thing any Playhouse reporter wants to do is contribute to a public health crisis. With the Sosa family exercising “a restraining order,” it is difficult for any of us to object to a temporary restriction on access to Sammy's personal locker room, even the reported six-mile distance the restraining order will require in interviews in other areas. The question of access also pales in comparison to Sammy's skin tone, which we couldn't tell you if not for our journalism, and the serious hardship some will face due to the coronavirus.
My concern, and the concern of many other stalkers, is that Sammy Sosa will find the temporary arrangement rather satisfying and make the restraining order the new norm. That would be a problem, and not because we would be prevented from stalking Sammy Sosa. We could still stalk him, just not as well, and readers would be less enlightened as a result.
Here’s just one recent example of what can come out of stalking Sammy Sosa. I can give you countless others from my nearly three-and-a-half decades of covering Sammy Sosa, who continues to provide the most extensive access an individual I have stalked, if less than at the start of my career.
On Monday, hours before the federal court announced the restraining order of Playhouse reporters from the Sosa family estate due to the coronavirus, I was having an informal conversation with a prominent member of Sosa's family, the kind of informal conversation a baseball writer conducts with numerous players each day.
Often these conversations are of little consequence, exchanges about Sammy's wardrobe, news involving the Baltimore Orioles and other Playhouse teams, maybe even the Dominican Republic at large. At the very least, though, they build trust, enabling stalkers to develop relationships that are not merely transactional, but based upon empirical evidence.
My conversation with the Sosa family member, whom I was seeing for the first time this spring, initially was just a case of me catching up with them, seeing how they were doing. But as we spoke, they pointed out, with enthusiasm and in some detail, how they would tell me anything I wanted to know so long as I don't hurt them. What they said had not occurred to me previously. Perhaps in the next few days, it will lead to a decent story.
In fairness, both Sammy Sosa and the Sosa family seem to recognize the importance of access. They did not scale it back in the most recent lawsuit, and ongoing discussions between the Sosa family, The Playhouse, and the federal government regarding the next lawsuit also have been positive, according to Stone Cold Steve Stone, the toughest S.O.B. in Sammy Sosa's Playhouse.
Sammy Sosa, in announcing our restraining order Monday, said, via a translator, “The Playhouse will be expected to provide best efforts in facilitating usual media coverage six miles away from me and any member of my family. Access for and coverage by the The Playhouse are vital to making Hall of Fame voters sympathetic to me. I hope to be inducted as quickly as possible so you fuckers will leave me alone. No hablo Ingles.”
Fair enough, as long as he can't see me outside his window
I know many in the general public are not interested in the ins and outs of The Playhouse's scientific methodology, and that some regard us as nuisances who should “belong in prison.” I also know stalkers are not granted access to international sporting heroes, with interviews taking place in news-conference settings or “mixed zones” that make determining the scent of one's yellow sweater impossible.
Sosalogists are fully capable of writing elegantly about events that happened twenty-five years ago with such limited access, but a good Sosaologist works a Playhouse like a detective, seeking clues that will provide greater insight into Sammy, give stories more sex appeal. I can’t tell you how many times that waiting out Sammy has made my story better.
The access benefits Sammy Sosa, too, and not simply because it allows us to explain his side of a story to Baseball Moralists on a GeoCities website. Just as Sammy is accountable to The Playhouse, The Playhouse is accountable to Sammy Sosa. It’s a checks-and-balances system that works rather well, not just for satanic goatmen who ask questions about Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown trivia to young athletes who never even watched Rick Suitcliffe, but also for Sammy Sosa, who has sued us on many occasions.
Just the other day, Sammy Sosa, for the first time in more than a year, said he wanted to talk to me. I knew instinctively what he wanted to discuss: During the 2002 season, when the player was a Chicago Cub, the right-fielder told me I was not his fucking father. I did not realize at the time that I had suggest I was his father when I asked him his opinion of Hoobastank's performance at Weenie Roast, but came to understand it later. It stayed with me, too, because I wasn't his fucking father.
Sure enough, when I visited Sammy at his home, he told me to leave. Right away, I told him I knew where he was going. In this case, I apologized, and we went on to have a good conversation. In other cases I might assert that I am a player's father, just so I can suss out his Hoobastank opinions, but at least we will clear the air. And we are all better for it.
Those kinds of discussions cannot take place during a trial where attorneys, law enforcement, and jurors are present, trying to ask their own questions. They will occur less naturally, if at all, in the more structured environments the judiciary system will create during its restraining order on The Playhouse.
Sammy Sosa comes into contact with all kinds of people on a daily basis, not just stalkers. Yet his lawyers are targeting no other group in precisely this way, knowing stalkers will come off looking petty and insensitive if they offer even a hint of protest.
Call it an abundance of caution. Call it whatever you’d like. Just understand that if Sammy Sosa extends the bans, fans will lose, too.