At the expense of this node becoming really tiring, I'll add two cents. As an avid baseball fan, one who watches the game and the corresponding highlights show every night... I have a hard time caring about any of this crap.

Corking a baseball bat is indeed cheating, but it's cheating in the same way that sneaking money back to the bank in Monopoly is cheating. No, not taking money from the bank in Monopoly. See, that would be a smart way to cheat, and one that would give you a competitive advantage. Corking a bat is a stupid way to cheat, because it doesn't really give you any sort of competitive advantage.

Oh, sure, baseball players will tell you that corking a bat is helpful, but these are the same folks that won't step on the foul line during the game, and have to adjust their wristbands a set number of times before each pitch, because otherwise, it's bad luck. The myth that corking a bat helps hit home runs is a lot like the myth that the kid from The Wonder Years became Marilyn Manson... there's no reason why it couldn't be true, until someone actually proves otherwise. Which it has been, both by the Louisville Slugger Company, and in the book The Physics Of Baseball, which, as an aside, is full of great facts but suffers from being poorly written and printed on cheap paper.

It's safe to assume that Sammy Sosa is just a dumb cheater. And whether he was using a corked bat for none or all of his home runs doesn't really matter... you don't hit 585-foot tape-measure home runs with a corked bat if you're the kind of guy with warning track power otherwise. A corked bat would help a guy like David Eckstein, or, say, Wilton Guerrero, who relies on bat speed to shoot the ball into gaps. That's not the kind of hitter Sammy Sosa is. Otherwise, his career average might be a little higher than .278 and he'd probably strike out a lot less.

Now... to dispel some of the untruths above. It is not difficult to obtain a corked bat. I have made one myself, albeit not a very good one. One of the players on my team has one this year (which he is not allowed to use), and it's almost indistinguishable from a regular wooden bat. A few years ago some of my players popped the plastic cap off an Easton and hammered two tennis balls into the barrel. I've probably seen half a dozen corked bats in ten years of coaching. And... oh yeah... I coach junior high school kids. If they can make or buy a corked bat, I can't imagine it being that tough for a major leaguer.

The write-up above would also lead you to believe that there's no reason to cork more than one bat. Why then would Albert Belle cork all of his bats? Simple. Bats wear out without shattering all over the field of play. Bats crack and splinter, and handles break off. If you leave a bat lying around it will gain an ounce weight from the dust and dirt it sits in. Moisture will add weight to a bat, too. You break bats in BP. All of these are reasons why you would cork more than one bat.

The main thing that disturbs me about all of this is that some folks have the idea that Sammy Sosa somehow tarnished the "integrity of the game". That's a word that gets thrown out a lot whenever folks talk about baseball. The integrity of the game. He damaged the integrity of the game. As if somehow baseball still has this majestic Field Of Dreams quality to it that puts it above every other sport... and that knowing that one guy used cork is somehow worse for the game than thinking that half the players use steroids and amphetamines.

Pete Rose once paid a visit to his son's minor league clubhouse, where he was quoted as saying that if you had to make the choice between doing drugs and gambling, you should do drugs, because Major League Baseball will give you another chance. Now Pete Rose says a lot of things that he shouldn't, and perhaps this was another one, but Pete Rose was absolutely right. Rose is banned from baseball "for life" for placing bets on the game. He damaged the integrity of the game. But in the meantime, Major League Baseball doesn't give a shit what people do "outside the lines".

Steve Howe was a cocaine addict suspended and reinstated five times by Major League Baseball. Orlando Cepeda was convicted of drug smuggling and sentenced to prison. Ty Cobb climbed into the stands during a game and physically assaulted a man in a wheelchair. He also later admitted to killing a man. Oh yeah, Cobb and Cepeda are in the Hall Of Fame, and now Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated is asking baseball writers to reconsider thinking of Sosa as a Hall Of Famer.

And one last thing, as we await Sosa's suspension. Which is worse, do you think.... getting caught playing baseball with an illegally modified bat... or hitting your wife in the head repeatedly with a telephone? Personally, I'd have to go with number two.

Major League Baseball disagrees.