A rep killer
One corked bat begs a ton of questions. AP
By John Donovan
Sammy, Sammy, Sammy.
Five hundred and five home runs. Exactly how many of them were legit? Huh? What about that Home Run Derby title at the 2000 All-Star Game? Does that still count?
More importantly: What about your next homer?
You know, baseball is filled with guys trying to get away with something. It's part of the culture. Pitchers cheat. Hitters cheat. Sometimes they get caught. Lots of times, they don't.
Well, now we know that Sammy Sosa cheats. He's been caught. One of the greatest home run hitters of all time, idolized by kids all over the baseball world, corks his bats. Or, at the very least, he's used a corked bat.
Wherever Sosa goes for the rest of his career, whatever he does, Tuesday at Wrigley Field will be remembered. Every time the ball jumps off his bat and flies into the seats, from here on out, people will wonder.
Is he corking it up again?
The truth is, Sosa didn't have all that squeaky clean of an image in the first place. Despite his chest-thumping, kisses-to-the-camera public persona, despite his three 60-homer seasons and the 500-plus homers and everything else, he's been known to be petulant and moody. He's complained about his contract. He's whined about the direction of his Chicago Cubs.
And then, of course, there are the steroid questions. No one's ever proven anything, and he's denied the charges for years. But the rumors haunt him. Many people still wonder.
Whether this was just an accident -- Sosa claims he picked an "exhibition" bat -- this will haunt him, too.
Bring up Joe Niekro and Gaylord Perry. People remember spitters and sandpaper. Now, bring up Sammy.
Fans will remember his homers. And the corked bat. And they will wonder.
What's the big deal?
Cut Sammy some slack. He's not alone. AP
By Jacob Luft
Did you hear the news?
Sammy Sosa was caught using a corked bat. I can hear the bleeding hearts now.
Oh, say it ain't so ... Oh, the humanity ... Oh, the poor, disillusioned children ...
Oh ... put a cork in it..
So Sosa may have been using a corked bat for some of those 505 career home runs. What, are you surprised? If there was any sport where the phrase, "If you're not cheating, you're not trying," applied to, it has to be baseball.
Whitey Ford, Gaylord Perry, Joe Niekro, Albert Belle, Mike Scott, Brian Moehler, Danny freaking Almonte ... the list of cheaters is long and somewhat distinguished. Some of the greatest teams -- the 1919 Black Sox -- and greatest moments -- "THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!" -- were marred by cheating.
Most of the time, these corked bat incidents are good for amusement and not much else. Superballs flying out of Graig Nettles' broken bat; Jason Grimsley sneaking into the umpire's room to steal Albert Belle's confiscated Louisville Sluggers ... you couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.
The Sosa incident Tuesday made for great theater.
Considering Tim "Pine Tar" McClelland was making the call, you half-expected Sosa to rush out of the dugout George Brett style. But do you really think this will tarnish Sosa's image?
Nobody even knows if corked bats are much of an advantage. In The Physics of Baseball, Yale physics professor Robert K. Adair argues that cork is more of a detriment than anything.
The great majority of Sosa's home runs travel way, way beyond the outfield walls. If those titanic blasts were due to something in his bats, then it must have been flubber and not cork.