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Burnt Cork
2003-06-05 10:15
by Mike Carminati

Jose Canseco appeared on Outside the Lines last night and excerpts of his interview were re-aired on SportsCenter this morning. Aside from having more tics than Torgo in Manos, the Hands of Fate (rent it if you haven't seen it--you owe it to yourself) and wearing lovely evening attire that included a muscle-man T, "Uncle Jr." Canseco claimed that Sammy Sosa is getting the shaft in the media because he is a black, Latin player. He claimed that Mark McGwire would not have gotten the same treatment.

I tend to doubt it since minority players like Billy Hatcher, Albert Belle, Amos Otis, Norm Cash, and Wilton Guerrero have been guilty of or admitted to corking thier bats over the years. They were criticized to some degree but not as much as Sosa has been. Guerrero was the last person caught before Sosa back in 1997 but seems to have been forgotten whenever anyone makes up their list of recent culprits. He hit a broken-bat grounder and instead of running it out, he gathered up the shattered remains of his bat. (Graig Nettles used superballs instead of cork so he is in the minority as well. By the way, Hatcher claimed to have used pitcher Dave Smith's batting practice bat by mistake and Nettles claimed a fan presented him with the bat that he used in the game by mistake--he hit a homer that won the game in his previous at-bat.) The outcry has occurred with Sosa not because of his race but rather because he is a very famous, well-liked player, who is known for hitting home runs. The other incidents were not discussed all over the internet ad nausem (thank you very much).

ESPN had a headline the day after the incident that read "Say It Isn't So-sa". For an incredulous society it takes a lot to surprise us, but Sammy's corked bat did. Momentarily, we were left agape like the kid who supposedly uttered those famous words that ESPN paraphrased to Joe Jackson 83 years ago.

But we will get over it and so will baseball. It just might happen without "Slammin' Sammy" cereal, but it'll happen.

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