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Should we care about Pete Rose’s corked bat?

Image (1) Rose%20horizontal.jpg for post 6598

Many of you have responded in the Pete Rose thread that a corked bat probably wasn’t a big deal because, as the good fellows at MythBusters (and many other researchers) have demonstrated, a corked bat doesn’t help a batter hit the ball any harder or farther or anything, and actually has some counterproductive qualities.

I’ll buy that. I’ll also note that no studies have shown any performance benefits as a result of human growth hormone, yet everyone still freaks out about that too. We punish HGH users and, I presume, HGH users will suffer penalties when their Hall of Fame candidacy comes up. “It’s against the rules,” so many argue. The same can be said about corked bats.

It doesn’t seem, however, that we’ll get a good read on how corked bats impact someone’s standing in terms of baseball ethics for some time. Why? The big names who have been caught corking all have other issues. Here’s the list of players who have been busted for corking:

  • Graig Nettles
  • Billy Hatcher
  • Albert Belle
  • Chris Sabo
  • Wilton Guerrero
  • Sammy Sosa

I think it’s safe to assume that none of us spend a lot of time wondering about Hatcher, Sabo and Guerrero’s place among the immortals. Belle was obviously not a choir boy, so I don’t think the bat corking seriously impacts our view of him. Same with Sosa and his PED connections. Nettles may be the only big star who got caught corking and doesn’t have anything else on his rap sheet. It’s not often the corking violation gets mentioned with him, though.

Rose, obviously, is in the Belle/Sosa crowd. We’d question his character and judgment and all of that even if we didn’t learn today that he had a corked bat. Indeed, I think the corked bat revelation moved the Pete Rose-scum-bag-o-meter needle less than a micron to right. He has, in short, other issues.

Still, I’m fascinated by this story because, gambling stuff aside, Rose is most often described as a fierce competitor. Well, he was a cheater too, and those traits are related. At some point the line between competing an cheating has to be drawn. Where do you draw it? At the rulebook alone, or where a violation of the rules actually makes a competitive difference?

Corked bats probably didn’t help Rose. HGH probably doesn’t help anyone who takes it. So, do we care or don’t we?