It was around 5:35 pm yesterday afternoon, and I was fumbling around to get out the door.
The phone was ringing, and a friend and longtime Cubs supporter’s name was flashing on my phone. I only had about 90 seconds to talk, but when Mark Smith calls – I answer.
Thankfully, there are at least a couple dozen Mark Smiths across the country, so I doubt anyone will be hitting this one up for Cubs tickets.
Anyway, I picked up the phone and immediately heard Mr. Smith’s dulcet tone: “Hey, you’re famous. I just saw your name go across the ESPN crawl.”
I didn’t have much time, as I was running late for a meeting. I promised him I’d call in a couple days – so Mark, if you’re reading this, I’ll be calling you back tonight or tomorrow!
I heard what he said, but I truly didn’t comprehend. A couple hours later, as I was driving home, it hit me.
I was on the bottom line … What just happened?
For the most part, I write on this site to share my stories of 25 years with the Cubs. From time-to-time, I reach out to former Cubs players to check up on them and see what they’re now up to – and have had great conversations over the last year with well-known names like Mark Prior, Kevin Tapani, Jon Lieber and Steve Trachsel – and some lesser-remembered guys like Lance Dickson, Micah Hoffpauir and Brooks Kieschnick.
I was very hopeful that Sammy Sosa would talk to me for a couple reasons. First, he hadn’t done many interviews in recent years. And second, he knew me – and knew I wouldn’t have a hidden agenda.
I’m not naïve. I knew when I landed the Sosa interview last week that there was a possibility that it would be newsworthy. During the course of the conversation, I saw that “possibility” was turning into “reality.”
But Tuesday morning, when I hit the “PUBLISH” button and the story was real and live, I was racing into unchartered territory.
I was about to go viral.
Well, let’s face it, Sammy Sosa was about to go viral. I was just along as the tag-team partner. If I’m mixing metaphors and sports, so be it – as it was that kind of day.
There was so much good that came out of February 21, 2017 … Sammy received a boatload of publicity … there were plenty of links to my story from all over the Internet … a heavy dose of social media … a massive amount of traffic driven to my site. And according to Google Analytics, over 7,200 people clicked on this site.
Of course, there was the expected blowback from people who want Sammy to say something specific about PEDs. As I noted before detailing the conversation, Sammy trusted me; that’s why he agreed to do the rare interview. The conversation did include the aforementioned PED subject matter. He just didn’t say what some of you out there wanted him to say. If I went all ambush interview on him – and I do know what an ambush interview is – he might not have spoken to me at all.
My biggest takeaway from the day: Whether the reaction was positive or negative, it was really interesting to see the amount of attention Sammy can still generate. The name “Sammy Sosa” might be a lightning rod, but he clearly is still very much a public figure – even though he’s lived a relatively private life during his post-baseball career.
For a good part of the day, Sammy Sosa was trending on Twitter. From mid-morning until late at night, people were sending me texts, emails, Facebook messages, Tweets. One-by-one, friends were letting me know my story was referenced in the Chicago Tribune … and in a Chicago Sun-Times breaking news alert … and on ESPN.com … and Yahoo Sports … and so on and so on.
Heck, it was with great amusement when one of my kids walked in the door after school shouting, “Hey Charles, you’re on my (Bleacher Report) Cubs Team Stream.”
Finally, there was that phone call: “Hey, you’re famous. I just saw your name go across the ESPN crawl.”
And, inevitably, a picture of the bottom line sent from a friend in Houston prominently mentioned beneath the photo.
My 15 minutes of fame might be over for now – at least until my next big scoop. And when that happens, I’ll be eager to share that story with you.