Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Scandal of the day
So, apparently, Sammy Sosa was caught using a corked bat.

Despite the fact that I've never been the biggest of Sosa fans (still bitter from his 1998 MVP win, I suppose), I really do hope he turns out to be innocent. His explanation is certainly plausible enough (though maybe that's just because I want to believe it), but who really knows? I guess they're going to look at the rest of his bats which they impounded, and hopefully they won't find anything more incriminating.

The question of just how beneficial the cork is is, of course, another matter. The physicists claim that cork provides a negligible benefit to the actual power you can impart to the ball, but it's of course quite difficult to measure the impact of a lighter bat in a game setting. And the sample size for corked bats being used in MLB is quite small (well, at least that we know of -- I have no doubt that it's noticeably higher than has been measured so far). Norm Cash produced arguably the greatest fluke season in baseball history (I'll bet even the most baseball illiterate fan can find it on that page) with what he later admitted was a corked bat; on the other hand, it didn't seem to help Wilton Guerrero much. Albert Belle certainly hit fine after his big corking scandal, though if Omar Vizquel is to be believed that's because all of his bats were corked. The other cases I don't know enough about to say anything useful, but it sure seems like the evidence is inconclusive.

In light of this, I guess I'm just disappointed that a player like Sosa -- who I think everyone can agree doesn't need cork to hit the occasional ball out of the park -- risked tarnishing his reputation (which, sadly, has pretty much irreversibly happened now) by trying this, even if his intentions were the best, as he claims.

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