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Major League Baseball Still Feeling Repercussions of Sosa Corked Bat - 2003-06-13

Major League Baseball is still feeling repercussions more than one week after slugger Sammy Sosa's corked bat shattered during a game between his Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. A lot of players and fans, especially the younger ones, are still talking and wondering about Sammy's corked bat.

Major League Baseball reduced Sosa's suspension from eight games to seven on Wednesday, but it may take a while longer before baseball fans let the matter rest. Teenager Greg Delaney was at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for game one of the Orioles interleague series against the Cubs Tuesday.

The young man is obviously a Cubs fan. He was wearing a hat with the team's logo, and a jersey with Sosa's name and number 21 on the back. Though he did not agree with what Sosa did, he was ready to forgive him. "He did something wrong, but he is willing to pay for it and he admitted to it, unlike chasing after the bat," he said. "He acted like normal, so I figured it was a mistake. He uses them in batting practice to make a show for the crowd and I think he just picked up the wrong one. Everybody makes mistakes."

Cubs manager Dusty Baker has never condoned Sosa's use of the corked bat, but he said Sammy is handling the controversy the right way. "He apologized for it. He said he was wrong. And at the same time, you got to realize that nobody is perfect. If you do something wrong, this is how you handle it. I think Sammy's handling it as honestly and as straightforward as you can handle a bad situation," he said.

But that bad situation started when Sosa broke the rules and had the bat corked. A portion of the barrel of the bat was hollowed out, and the empty space packed with small pieces of cork. The opening was then sealed with a wooden rod, making it difficult to detect. Players have their bats corked in the belief the lighter bat will speed up their swings, and that the ball will rebound off the bat faster, allowing them to hit it farther.

Cubs second baseman Mark Grudzielanek told VOA Sports he had never corked his bat, but that many players are tempted. "You know, it is just one of those things where you play around with it to see the difference. You know, why do pitchers lube up, use sandpaper and go out there with tar on their glove and do other things like that? That's cheating too. It happens," he said. "Everyone does it in the game."

So how much cheating is going on? "Well obviously, a lot more than you guys think. But I don't know what is going on out there as much, and I am even playing the game. So there are things that go on out there and if you don't get caught, nobody knows. Unfortunately, Sammy got caught," said Grudzielanek.

Getting caught cost Sammy more than a seven game suspension, it could have cost him his reputation. In the eyes of some fans, Sosa's accomplishments, such as his more than 500 home runs, have been tainted. Perhaps all of the homers were hit with legal bats. Or maybe some were powered out of Wrigley Field and onto Waveland Avenue [in Chicago] by corked bats. The sad truth is that fans will never know for sure.