Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Sammy, Sammy, Sammy

By now everyone has heard about the cork found in Sammy Sosa's bat last night. Many have wondered why a player of such talent would need to do such a thing. Sammy assured us that using the bat was an "accident", and that while he did cork his bats, he did it only to "thrill" fans during batting practice. The press for the most part is backing off to see what further fallout there will be. The Baseball Tonight crew basically proclaimed it a non-issue, buying Sammy's story and saying that even if Sammy did cork his bats intentionally, he probably just did it for a psychological boost, and it probably didn't help him much.

So why do I keep thinking about Pete Rose?

I don't claim to know how much it would help to have cork in your bat, or what kind of person Sammy is, but I know this: The odds are tiny that the very first time Sammy accidently grabbed one of his Whacky Bats instead of an Official Bat was last night, when the bat broke. It is such a farfetched excuse that I'm shocked he didn't come under more ridicule for it immediately.

We know that Sammy has admitted to corking bats for batting practice. Let's take a look at that for a second. If this is true, that's putting in a lot of extra effort just to thrill the fans. And isn't there an element of fraud even in this? If Sammy wants to show kids just how far a ball can be hit, why doesn't he use an aluminum bat? Also, how insecure does Sammy need to be to believe that his own batting practice homeruns, with no extra help, are not worthy enough?

Then there is the mixing up of the bats. If Sammy knows that using a corked bat is wrong, and he only uses it for batting practice, and realizes there is great risk in using a corked bat, why in the world does he leave it anywhere near the rest of his bats? How many corked bats does he have over there? How much time is Sammy spending doing all of this? Does he take the corked bats for batting practice on the road?

OK, let's say we buy all of that. He just corks bats to please the kids. He leaves the corked bats with the regular ones and never gives it a second thought. He then accidentally grabs the wrong bat this one time and it breaks. How likely is it that a bat breaks the first time you use it? How likely is it in any at bat that the bat breaks? How often does Sammy's bat break?

Corking bats isn't the end of the world, but I don't like being lied to, and I don't like the press backing off because he's popular. People like to think they know these guys, that Sammy could never do this, because he seems so nice. Remember Kirby Puckett? Not to equate the two, but smiling to the camera buys you a lot of slack.

So because Sammy's Excuse sounds like so much, b.s., let's throw out some more plausible ones.

1. He's used a cork bat for years.

2. He uses corked bats only when he's struggling.

3. He started using them this year, after trying them out in batting practice.

4. He started using them several years ago, after trying them out in batting practice.

I don't pretend to know the answer to this, but I'm betting one of thes four is closer to the truth than what Sammy gave us.

Tell us the truth, Sammy.

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