A corked bat is slightly lighter than a solid wood one, so swinging it causes less strain on the batter. Many baseball players believe, incorrectly, that corked bats confer a significant advantage in distance. Sosa had claimed that he used the corked bats to better amuse fans during batting practice without having to work as hard.
The answer is simple: Sosa is lying; a player wouldn’t in fact do that.
Personally, I think that the seizure and inspection of the other 70-some-odd bats (with no other tainted ones found) makes things even more incriminating for Sosa. If there were, say, 10 other corked bats, then his claim that he accidentally grabbed the wrong one might be credible. But having only 1 tainted bat out of 80 or so pretty much means that he did it intentionally.
And hey, even if by some stretch of the imagination he is telling the truth and he only cheats in practice, that’s just sad.
All other players who have been caught with corked bats have lied about it. Why does Sosa get such disapproval?
His story isn’t any worse than Graig Nettles saying his corked (actually Superballed, but it’s the same principle) bat had been sent to him by an unknown admirer and he just decided to use it. Nettles got a few smirking looks and everyone forgot about the incident a week later.
Yet, for some reason, this suddenly gets a lot of play.
The problem with that theory, nineiron, is that Sosa goes to bat about 650-700 times a year during the regular season. It is therefore very likely that if he grabs a random bat he would get the corked one every now and then. I think that’s baloney too, but it’s not improbable that it could happen. If it does, there’s a high probability he would be caught, since corked bats are likelier to break.
In any case, he was appropriately punished.
As to the GQ, there is a remarkably strong belief among major league players that corking a bat adds distance, and if it did it would be fun to have batting practice with, as if you were using an aluminum bat. Of course, anyone who has used different weights of aluminum bats knows that a lighter bat DOESN’T hit the ball further. The loss in mass offsets the increase in bat speed. If I use a 26-ounce aluminum bat I cannot hit the ball as far as I can with a 28- or 30-ounce bat.
Of course, a corked bat would benefit a player in game play by improving his contact The increase in bat speed would increase the player’s ability to meet the ball with the bat, especially on fastballs.
Note also a column that Joe Morgan wrote a while back on ESPN, when this first broke, in which he said that he used to use corked bats in BP because it hurt his hands less, and, interestingly, that he accidentally used one in a game once.
Remember-Sosa had 8 innings to rid his locker of incriminating evidence, if any. Brilliant post nineiron-I deal w/ criminals & frauds for a living ,& would have been proud to make that point. Of course, bats, especially now ,are broken all the time even in BP. If Sosa did use a corked bat for BP & demonstrations in the Dom. Republic, he would have a few back ups, no?
Is batting practice for fun, or is it to maintain and improve one’s skills?
Boxers don’t practice with an easy-to-knock-down air-filled balloon; they hone their skills on a very heavy leather bag filled with who-knows-what. Swimmers don’t practice in a river where the current will increase their speed effortlessly, rather they use a regular pool. Why would a baseball player want to practice with a bat which does not simulate actual playing conditions?
And is this “fun” factor important enough that the officials choose not to ban such bats from the stadium? I can see -maybe- allowing such bats at an exhibition game, or some other sort of “demo” situation, but at a regular game? I don’t get it.
<shrug>No important ones. But he was a big star at the time it happened and everyone just laughed it off. With Sosa, it’s suddenly The End of Civilization as We Know It.
Norm Cash had the best year of his career using a corked bat. No one thought his batting championship should be called into question because of this.
And Whitey Ford and Gaylord Perry used a spitball. Both are in the Hall of Fame. Perry cheerfully admitted using the spitball right after he retired (supposedly, he announced his retirement by saying, “The league will be a little dryer now”) and still was elected. No one raised the slightest fuss or thought his 300 wins were tainted. And the effect of a spitball is much greater than a little cork in the bat.
Nettles never came close to approaching the stardom Sosa has. Over the past few seasons Sosa has been one of the top three sluggers in baseball (along with Bonds and A-Rod), whereas in 1974, Nettles wasn’t even the best 3rd baseman, as both Schmidt and Bando had better seasons. Sosa will be a first ballot Hall of Famer (even with the corked bat incident), whereas Nettles has been eligible for years and hasn’t made it.
A lot is being made of now of the corked bat because of Sosa’s prominence in baseball, but in time it will fade. Several years from now, when Sosa is inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, the corked bat incident will be merely a footnote.
I know that there are some players who do used corked bats in BP (regardless of whether corking actually changes the physics of hitting a baseball to the batter’s advantage). I’ll even accept that Sammy does this too, to help put on a “show for the fans” as he put it.
But thing is, Sosa was caught using a corked bat at Wrigley Field in a home game. During home games, it is policy to open the gates an hour-and-a-half before game time, after the home team has taken batting practice. There were no fans in the stands when Sosa took BP that day. Who was he putting on a “show” for? His teammates? The Devil Rays? A few reporters? Why would Sammy even have his “show” bat in the dugout?
Oh well. I’ll never know the answers. I think Sammy was deliberately using a corked bat because he hoped it would break him out of his homerless streak. He’s serving his seven game suspension now and the sports talk hosts have already moved on to blasting Rick Neuheisel. By the time Sammy plays again, nobody will care at all. They’ll be too busy debating the Torre firing.
I realize that. At the same time, Nettles was a very popular and likeable player – like Sosa – and people didn’t obsess about it like they have with the Sosa incident.
I agree. That’s why all this press is so strange. If he used a corked bat, why is that such a big issue when people like Whitey Ford, Gaylord Perry, and Don Sutton got into the Hall of Fame by doctoring the baseball. Perry was suspended for it, but it didn’t raise the fuss Sosa did. And a doctored baseball (whether by spit, sandpaper, or KY Jelly) is going to help the pitcher a lot more than a corked bat will help the batter.
Of course, ultimately, no matter what you do to the bat, you still have to make contact with it.
There is an obvious difference. Cash was never caught using a corked bat in a game. Had he been he would have been suspended. The only knowledge of the situation came years later when he made the admission.
Just because a guy admits later that he cheated doesn’t change the outcome. That’s sports. You have to get caught in the act which is what happened to Sosa.
Keeves, I think you’re confused about what batting practice is.
You’re thinking of the practice that players do at camp, and away from the game. The batting practice that Sosa claims he uses the corked bat for is immediately before the game, and is pretty much useless as practice. It’s a warm-up, and a chance to show off for the fans.
Dr. Doowop, you may not recall any attacks on Hank, but by the time he hit home run number 715, he’d been getting hate mail, racial abuse, and death threats for nearly a year.