McClelland, citing rule 6.06(D), ejected Sosa and returned the runners[?] to second the third removing a run from the board.
The superstar, recently named as the most marketed active player in baseball by Sports Business Journal, has been having difficulty after coming off the disabled list (DL)[?] for a big toe problem. Since his return, Sosa has hit an abysmal 2-for-15 with 8 strikeouts[?], including a 5 K outing last game. He hasn't left the yard since May 1 and has a only managed to send six over the fence all season, with 24 RBIs[?], while batting .285[?]. This all comes after Sosa has managed to hit 60 homers in three of his last five seasons, more 60 ding years than any other player: 66 in 1998, 63 in 1999, and 64 in 2001.
In the post-game press conference, Sosa denied that he knew the bat was tampered with. He said that he uses a corked bat when he takes batting practice (BP)[?] and in hitting exhibitions to make it more exciting for the fans and that he must had grabbed the wrong bat. Of course not everybody is buying this. We are talking somebody that can tell the difference between a 32 and 33 ounce bat by feel. Why would a hitter than can hit 450-foot bombs need any help? It's not like Sammy hits paint scrapers that clear the back wall by inches. This is the man that along with Mark McGwire revived baseball five years ago in a memorable home run race.
Some noticed that Sammy didn't bother to keep the bat handle he was left with after the rest of the bat was sent flying into the field. If I am Sammy, I take that bat, I dog it to first, and after being forced out, I quickly snatch up the splinters. Then I take those pieces down into the clubhouse and have them disappear. This is Chicago after all. There is a long history of a great organization that is known for making things (and people) disappear. You don't drop part of a corked bat at the feet of the catcher, especially when that is the piece that ultimately gets you caught. ESPN's SportsCenter also aired some tape that might have identified a 'C' marked in the cup at the end of the bat that presumably Sosa would have used to indicate which bats he corked for BP. At least, on Wednesday after testing, the commissioner's office of Major League Baseball (MLB) stated that none of the other 76 bats contained any foreign substances. They where all clean, which is consistent with Sammy's explanation.
However, these are all convenient excuses. Who would go to the plate without some sort of excuse to fall back on? Regardless, Sosa did go to the plate with a bat a few ounces short of a core. This damages the integrity of a sport that is having an image crisis. On how many of Sosa's 505 bombs did he "accidentally" pick up the wrong bat? We would never have known this time if his lumber hadn't broke on him -- and us.
This isn't McClelland's first such incident. He was also the presiding umpire the night George Brett was ejected in the infamous Pine Tar Incident and for Albert Belle's decorking, too. Neither is this Sammy's first questionable incident. Last year, after reports had surfaced that Sosa may have used performance enhancing steroids, Sosa said that he would be the first in line to be tested if MLB implemented a mandatory drug testing policy. Reporter Rick Reilly took that a little too literally and approached the muscular hitter with a cup, asking him to fill it up. Sosa became enraged at Reilly and was subsequently crucified in the media. Since the cork, Reilly has weighed in, "If he cheats with his bat, then it isn't much of a stretch for him to cheat with his body." Reilly has labeled the taint premanent calling for Sosa to immediately submit to steroid testing to at least show that part of his game is clean.
Even in the modern era of baseball, with the exploding extra hard bat, players have been caught doing some clandestine carpentry. Wilton Guerrero was forced to take an eight-game vacation for making his bat into an odd shaped coaster. Albert Belle was sidelined for ten games. However, Indians relief pitcher Jason Grimsley did his best Tom Cruise Mission Impossible impression, crawling trough the ceiling and dropping into the umpire's room to replace the confiscated bat with one of Paul Sorrento's bats before it could be X-rayed. On appeal, Belle's suspension was reduced to seven games since he was never actually caught using a corked bat (although he did appear to be using an autographed Sorrento bat). Billy Hatcher was hit with an eight-game suspension when the bat he borrowed from pitcher Dave Smith shattered. Too bad he borrowed one of Smith's corked bats.
Corking a Bat
Corking a bat usually involves drilling a hole down the center of the fat end of the bat, filling it with a foreign substance, and the covering the hole so as to not be detected. However, the bat cannot be doctored too much. The bore can only be about 8-inches long, maybe up to 3/4-inch wide, and must be straight. Anything larger or off center and the integrity of the bat will be severely compromised.
Next, the bore must be filled in with something that gives; often this is cork. However, players have been known to use superballs or rubber. The filling needs to be cut into small pieces and tightly packed into the bat. If not, the desired effect will not be produced and the bat will have a hollow sound when contact with the ball is made, certain to raise the plate umpire's interest. Some players have even used more exotic substances like mercury or other metals, but because of the physics of the baseball, these metals are almost certainly a bad idea. When the ball strikes the bat, something must give. Either the ball can give and deform or the bat can. The ball gives back energy very poorly, wasting 75-percent of its captured energy in heat. The bat, however, is made for this. It gives back energy at nearly 100-percent, so a harder substance in the bat will only prevent it from deforming to absorb energy and cause the ball to deform more, wasting energy when the ball rebounds. From a weight perspective corking a two pound bat will only remove about two ounces.
The opinions about how a corked bat works are varied. One theory is that a lighter bat allows the batter to generate more bat speed. However, tests have shown that corking a bat only increases bat speed by 1.1 mph. That is less than a 1-percent increase in swings that can travel over 100 mph, and the loss of weight in the bat probably counteracts any performance gain. Another theory is that a corked bat allows players to hit with the density of a heavier bat, but the weight of a lighter bat. Still another theory is that the material inside the bore can be used to "soften" the bat and store more energy in it instead of the ball. This is said to probably not be correct either since it is the outer wood that deforms and filling a bat with superballs isn't likely to make it deform too much more. The cork cannot release its energy fast enough either since the ball is only in contact with the bat for a thousandth of a second. A fourth theory is that it just doesn't do anything. Baseball players are well known to be superstitious and play mind games with themselves. This may just be another case of doing something stupid so they can feel they are getting an advantage, and we all know that baseball players have a long history of stupidity.
Sosa didn't need to take the chance of even corking his BP bat. The balls are juiced. The parks are juiced. The players are juiced. These have all been far more responsible for rocketing balls into the stands than some left over pieces of a few wine bottles. There is no reason to risk his trip to Cooperstown when it is assured.