Beneath the clever “Say it ain’t So-sa” headlines are theories of what really happened. Call them skeptical, cynical and realistic.
Skeptics would say that it’s unlikely that the first time Sammy Sosa is caught with a corked bat is the first time he used one. And, yes, it does taint his iconic reputation as a prodigious home run hitter.
Cynics will note that the corked-bat incident deflects attention from more serious — and sinister — speculation. Namely, some of Sosa’s awesome power is produced by a diet of steroids and expansion-caliber pitching. Especially the former.
Realists see Sosa, now in his mid-30s, on the flip side of his legendary career. He’s not the hitter he once was. He recently returned to the Cubs’ lineup from the disabled list. His relative lack of production has continued — and has frustrated Sosa.
Faced with that reality and an almost obsessive desire to perform and please, Sosa resorted to using a corked bat for an edge. A corked bat is lighter and creates a bit more bat speed than the lumber he normally uses. Its value is negligible in the hands of a marginal player. In the hands of such a superb athlete and power hitter as Sosa, it can make a difference. Even if mostly psychological.
There’s your likely answer.
Sosa’s never been 34 before and hasn’t seen such puny production since the early days of his career. He made a mistake. But he didn’t pick up the “wrong” bat. At 505 homeruns — and seemingly no longer counting — he took the “wrong” approach.
That’s what he should apologize for. And that’s most fans would understand and forgive him for. Say it’s so, Sammy.