For those who missed it, Cubs superstar Sammy Sosa was ejected in the first inning last night for using a corked bat. ESPN’s Jayson Stark says Sosa’s legacy could be broken beyond repair.

For years now, the image of Sammy in most American minds was Sammy hugging Mark McGwire during the Maris Chase in 1998. Or Sammy racing out to right field waving his little American flag after Sept. 11, 2001. Or Sammy doing his little hop step as another home run sailed off toward a Waveland Avenue rooftop.

But not anymore.

Now the image is going to be Sammy hitting a dinky little broken-bat ground ball to second base — on the night his world changed forever.

Now people will ask if he has cheated his way to those 505 home runs, even though all the cork in Portugal wouldn’t help a man hit 505 home runs if he couldn’t hit.

Stark may be right; I hope he isn’t. While we’ll never know for sure, my inclination is to take Sosa at his word that he was merely careless–using a BP bat instead of a game bat by mistake–rather than a cheater. Presumably, the man has broken many a bat over the years; bats break all the times nowadays, because of the transformation to very thin-handled clubs. If none of those had cork in them, it stands to reason that he hasn’t been using a corked bat the whole time.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bryan says:

    Could Stark be any more over-the-top in his column? Give me a break. The guy sounds like Sosa just shot his mother or something. Comparing him to an acknowledged 22-year cheater because of one first-inning broken bat swing? C’mon. Stark’s scaremongering. It’s shoddy journalism, shoddy punditry, even.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Bryan, I agree that Stark is probably overreacting. But he is also probably right that people will always wonder whether Sosa has been using a corked bat all along. Which is, of course, silly.

  3. Jen says:

    That the bat broke in the first inning may be the telling clue in Sosa’s favor. He is a power-hitter after all. It could just be a simple mistake. I hope so.

  4. bryan says:

    Also, the fact that the bat was marked with a big white “C”. I mean, if you’re going to cheat, you usually don’t advertise the fact.

  5. Sosa’s homers should be questioned, not because of the corked bat, but because of his transformation from Slender Sammy with the White Sox to Super Sammy with the Cubs.