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PCR #167. (Vol. 4, No. 23) This edition is for the week of June 2--8, 2003.
Matt's Rail

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Why is it that every time you turn around today you find yourself confronted with the sad reality that most people cheat. Whether it's financial cheating, ala Bush's buddies at Enron (who I'll remind everyone now that over 100 of those theives are in his administration), Presidential cheating, as in JFK, who is now being trashed in the tabloids by some loser trying to make a buck, or sports cheating, as in Sammy Sosa and his magic bat-o-cork.

For those of you not in the know, Corking a bat is a very bad thing. Just like every other aspect in sport, there are requirements that must be met for something to be deemed "legal". The ball in football must be inflated to a specific degree that is checked on a regular basis. So much so, that before a kicker can attempt a field goal, an official checks the integrity of the inflated ball. Same goes for baseball.  The bat must meet a specific weight requirement and it can not, in any sense, be tampered with to give unfair advantage, and that is exactly what corking does.

Basically, you drill out about 8 inches of wood from the top center of the bat and load it up with cut up cork. You then plug the hole with a wood plug, smear sawdust all over it, and...walla...you have a much lighter, faster swinging bat.

Surely you've heard about this by now...even if you aren't the sports enthusiast. Heck, they're talking about it on ESPN, CNN, CNBC, MSNBC, FOX and others. And the amazing thing is that the people talking about it are NOT sports heads...they're the day in day out politic dudes.

I guess this isn't suprising given the fact that we're talking about Sammy Sosa, who is known for cranking out home runs faster than Bugs Bunny can dress in drag. Sosa is, after all, the guy who sprung to national fame beyond that of the baseball diamond with his now legendary season long competition with eventual home run king Mark McGuire a few seasons ago.

Making this worse for me is that Sosa is one of the only ball players i really like. He always seems to be a genuinely kind fella, and the media loves him for his generosity and honesty.  Fortunately, in some sense, his honesty is still with him, as he admitted immediately that the bat was his.

This isn't the first time this has happened in baseball. Guys are getting caught all the time doing something they shouldn't be doing. Most times, though, they adamently deny it and say it wasn't their bat, or they borrowed it from the pile of bats and don't know who it belongs to. Sosa, at least, was man enough to take the heat.

His explanation is that it is his bat, but that he uses it for batting practice, and accidently grabbed the wrong one when he headed for the plate for his at-bat. I like to say there are excuses and reasons. This sure sounded like an excuse to me. Of course, I've been so jaded by heroes of my youth, be it sport or music, I really don't know what to think. Still, I was hoping some kind of evidence would come forward supporting this guy I still hoped to believe in.

Then, tonite, while eating dinner, it was reported on CNN that Sammy's entire collection of bats (76 in all) had been confiscated by major league baseball. As I waited for the other shoe of disappointment to drop, I was happily suprised to learn that all.....ALL....of his other bats had not been tampered with and were 100% legal to use.

Does this mean that he didn't intend to cheat? I guess that will forever be up to the individual to decide what they think. As for myself, I'm willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, but only because he was man enough to admit the bat was his, and voluntarily spoke with ESPN about it LIVE after the game had ended, and face the music. Nice to see that, for once, one of my favorite players isn't such a scumbag loser after all.

Till next time, take care, and God bless,

"Matt's Rail" is ©2003 by Matthew Drinnenberg. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.