By using a corked bat, Sammy Sosa cheated. He deserves to have his image tarnished. He deserves to be suspended. He deserves to have every single one of his 505 home runs (to date) called into question.
Why is cheating at sports so bad? Well, let's think about this for a moment. Every year millions of fans pay billions of dollars to watch sporting events on the assumption that there is a level playing field for both teams, the outcome of each game is not predetermined, and all players are following the rules. When a player cheats, willfully breaks the rules, or otherwise compromises the integrity of the game, he or she is defrauding the fans who pay his salary and give him all his fame and fortune in the first place. Biting the hand that feeds you is a pretty despicable thing to do. Not to mention the damage that is done to the faith of the fans who idolize you if you are caught.
Some of the arguments people have been making about this incident astound me...
Sammy didn't cheat. It was an accident. Sammy said so. The bats were X-rayed.
Please. Either Sammy is a cheater, or he is really, really dumb. If you knew you had a corked bat, and you knew that bats can break, and you knew that getting caught with a broken bat could tarnish your reputation, and you knew that cheating was wrong, wouldn't you make damned sure to kept your illegal bat separate from your normal bats?
And why does Sammy have an illegal bat in the first place? He claims he uses it for batting practice. Well, corked bats are hard to get. They take a few hours to make, or a good amount of money to pay someone else to make. Sammy got one just for batting practice? And he bothered to sand it down so it wouldn't be detected? Even if all this were true, he's still defrauding the fans who pay to come see him take his hacks in BP. Why not just drop the pretense and bring it on with a metal bat?
As for the X-Rays of Sammy's other bats that found no cork, I would ask you, would there ever be a reason to have two corked bats? The only reason to have extra bats is that bats break, but if you break your corked bat, you certainly aren't going to have any use for your other one sitting back in the clubhouse after your ejection and later, suspension.
Sammy Sosa is only getting so much attention because he is really famous. If someone else cheated, no one would care.
Well, yeah. With fame comes a lot of responsibility and scrutiny. This is a fact of life. Sammy better get used to having his actions scrutinized more carefully then those of Joe the gas station attendant. But even with this fact in mind, this argument is simply not true. The last player who was caught with a corked bat was Wilton Guerrero a 21-year-old second baseman struggling to crack the Dodgers starting lineup - a nobody - but he got almost as much attention back in 1997 as Sosa is getting now. I remember. It was all the same stuff - the discussion of Greg Nettles (who put superballs in his bat), the "shocked" reaction of players and coaches, the endlessly-replayed highlight on SportsCenter of Wilt looking like a fool scrambling to try to collect all the pieces of his bat before anyone noticed. Announcers still called him "Corky" years later.
And even if famous players get more negative attention for cheating than no-namers, the deserve it. Their ability to damage the faith of the fans and the reputation of the game is correspondingly greater. And I would argue that if anything we should pay more attention to lesser-known cheaters, not less attention to famous cheaters.
Gaylord Perry (or whoever else) cheated and he is in the Hall of Fame.
Wow, your moral relativism is so enlightening. Now I know that if one person cheats, we should all cheat! And if even one person cheats and gets away with it, we should all cheat and let everyone get away with it! In fact, we should let Sammy off the hook right now. Go ahead Sam, cheat all you want! In fact, why have any rules at all?
Honestly, the moral relativism of this age is depressing...the idea that anything goes if it doesn't "hurt anybody." Did Sammy's corked bat hurt anybody? No, right? Well it certainly didn't shed any blood or cause any bruises, but think about it...
Was a kid's faith shattered? Was the image of a nation's cherished pastime diminished even a bit? And if by chance Sammy had hit a home run, let's say, perhaps a game winning shot, could a team's chances at the postseason have been lessened? Could a rookie's stats have been affected, perhaps hurting his career?
Not easy questions.
Sammy obviously didn't use a corked bat for many of his home runs, and even if he did hit some with a corker, he was probably strong enough to have hit them anyway with a normal bat. Which goes to show how stupid it is to have a corked bat in the first place, but more importantly, is completely beside the point. Trust is a fragile precious thing, that has to be constantly earned and once lost, is almost impossible to win back completely. The same concept applies to morality. If you lie even once, you are a liar. If you steal even once, you are a thief. If you murder even once, you are still a murderer. And if Sammy Sosa held a corked bat in his hands for even one pitch, he is a cheater.
Yes, "everyone makes mistakes," and yes, "forgiveness is divine," and Sammy Sosa should be forgiven in time...IF he earns it by regaining our trust. But until then he is a cheater, and should be punished accordingly with a reasonable suspension and the fullest extent of our disdain and criticism.