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Should we care about Pete Rose's corked bat?

Jun 8, 2010, 3:13 PM EDT

Rose horizontal.jpgMany 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.

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
  • Billy Hatcher
  • Albert Belle
  • Chris
  • 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?

  1. Rays fan - Jun 8, 2010 at 6:37 PM

    Don’t confuse HGH with steroids, roidboy; they aren’t the same thing. They are completely different types of hormones with different effects on the body. The statement was that HGH has had no proven benefits, not that steroids don’t. Steroids (not HGH) are extremely effective anti-inflammatories, resulting in much quicker recovery from heavy workouts and thus allowing even heavier training programs–with resulting increased speed and muscle mass. Such benefits have never been shown to accrue from HGH usage.
    Todd–Why do athletes try HGH anyway? (1) The placebo effect, and (2) combination of greed and desperation.

  2. Rays fan - Jun 8, 2010 at 6:42 PM

    I was a huge Reds fan as a boy (Rays didn’t exist & the Reds spring training camp was in Tampa then). No, corked bats don’t change my opinion of Pete Rose, because my opinion couldn’t get a lot lower anyway. Unlike many, I do not feel he should ever be reinstated, at least not until Joe Jackson is–he, after all, was found innocent of gambling on baseball.

  3. schmedley - Jun 8, 2010 at 8:44 PM

    Ok, if you want to be a stickler, then I guess all of the spit-ballers / ball-scuffers should be removed from the Hall: Gaylord Perry, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro.

  4. deiong - Jun 8, 2010 at 9:11 PM

    the mythbusters proved corked bats do the opposite, so if he wanted to cheat himself from a further hit thats his problem.

  5. Amol - Jun 8, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    The studies may show that a corked bat may lead to less effective contact, but I’ve yet to see one that answers whether it leads to more frequent contact. This is an especially important question when it comes to Rose, as he would gladly have given up power in order to make more contact.

  6. Amol - Jun 8, 2010 at 10:02 PM

    Oh, and for the record, Nettles never used a corked bat. The bat he was caught using was filled with rubber balls. While it makes no difference on an ethical level, it certainly does in terms of my amusement.

  7. lgwelsh1 - Jun 8, 2010 at 10:27 PM

    HgH, corked bats….blah blah blah. You still need talent and you have to put in the work to achieve big numbers. Taking sterioid ( Not HgH ) just gives you the ability to work out longer and lift more weights. You still have to do the work to get results.

  8. TheWizard - Jun 8, 2010 at 10:40 PM

    Does anyone believe Pete has the hits record because of corked bats?
    Does anyone believe McGuire and Bonds hit all those home runs due to steroids?
    Perspective, people.

  9. CharlyH - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:50 AM

    How can you tell if HGH works or not since no test exists to prove a person is taking it. If a young person started taking HGH between the ages of 10 to 20 years he could conceivably increase his size and body mass significantly. Information regarding HGH clearly states many positive athletic enhancements such as increased calcium retention and mineralization of bone, increased muscle mass, stimulates the growth of all internal organs excluding the brain, reduces liver intake of glucose, promotes gluconeogenisis in the liver, stimulates the immune system; just to name a few. I am not sure where you get your information from but why not stick with telling the whole truth about something, not just stating those things that you think help make your argument. As far as corked bats goes, who knows. It’s the thought that counts.

  10. HitItFarther - Jun 9, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    What if instead of putting cork inside the center of the bats we put the same thing in them as in the center of golf balls, would we get more bounce per ounce.

  11. walk - Jun 9, 2010 at 4:43 AM

    The pete rose saga breaks my heart, as a fan though i knew to begin with his personality and relationship with reporters left a lot to be desired. I was willing to overlook that and still see him voted in to hall. However he kept going off grid from gambling to corked bats and other personal issues outside baseball. The worst thing you can do to pete now is let him get voted on and dropped from hall ballot. As much as we all loved his hustle and competive spirit his carreer is over, his character shattered, let him get on ballot imo and get dropped because he doesnt votes to stay and and let him have his peace. Again just my two cents, it truly hurts every time i see a story on a former idol who falls from his pedestal and becomes just like rest of us or worse.

  12. dcjazzman - Jun 9, 2010 at 8:34 AM

    Personally, I don’t really have a hard line on Pete Rose. He corked his bat to make it lighter and help him catch up to the heat coming from pitchers. It was “artificial” skill, but he still had to swing that bat. And he still had to have “much better than average” hand-to-eye coordination to touch the ball solidly enough to keep it between the lines. The exact same phenomenon is at play with that other guy… Barry Bonds. All of the folk that say he cheated are full of it. He didn’t cork his bat and kept it between the lines and got it out of the park. You can’t have it both ways. If one is good for the HOF, so must the other be. Bottom line is they STILL had to swing that bat on a true trajectory to hit that ball. Pete was getting hits without cork. Barry was hitting it out of the park before those supplements were ever invented. Same, same: I think they both should be there without question (and that the government should get off Bonds’s back. EVERYBODY lies about drug use! And everybody gambles!
    But anyway, if one is let in, they both must be. No tickee, no laundry.

  13. dcjazzman - Jun 9, 2010 at 8:58 AM

    So: none of you self righteous “hunkie dories” ever drive faster than the posted speed limit? Or Jaywalk? Or try to claim an extra $100 on your taxes? Or ignore the water ban during dry spells? Or drive after drinking one too much? Or charge a sodbuster an extra percent on his car loan because … you can?
    Guys like you are full of it. You preach all this holier than though crap and try to hold EVERYBODY else’s shortcomings “up to the light.” but YOU are just as much a sinner as those/everyone you try to degrade. Didn’t you learn that Bible Lesson that ALL of us sin, that none of us are perfect. Zip it up, why don’t you!

  14. Jonny5 - Jun 9, 2010 at 9:21 AM

    Yeah, but look at what he did with a bat that wasn’t corked…. ;>)
    Look at A-rod. He was juicing, we all know it. But no one seems to care now because, “look what he’s doing without it”. The others who get the most disgust had a decline in production once they stopped using. Will A-rod still get into the hall of fame? I guess he will. And mother $%^$@@, ignorant @$$, stupid #@%$$# Rose should too. Because he was one of the best ball players ever.

  15. Joey B - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    “No one has produced any shred of evidence that HGH alone increases performance.”
    Actually, they have. There was an article on Bloomberg about a month ago where experiments showed runners get maybe (going from memory) about .3 seconds faster over 100 meters from the use of HGH.

  16. Joey B - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:07 AM

    “Didn’t you learn that Bible Lesson that ALL of us sin, that none of us are perfect. Zip it up, why don’t you!”
    Silly. Everyone’s done something wrong at some point in their life, so does that mean we can’t have juries and trials anymore since no one is perfect?
    It’s a simple point. Is cheating wrong? The fact that I cheated on a 7th grade science exam doesn’t mean the it is okay for Rose to cork his bat. If you feel it is okay to cork a bat, then the next logical step is to say it’s okay to paint an aluminum bat to look like wood.

  17. Codebeard - Jun 9, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    You’re missing the point entirely. To test a corked bat vs. legal bat, you have to keep the speed constant so you test the effectiveness of the bats themselves. The difference in mass is irrelevant because as was stated, there are LEGAL ways to modify the mass to increase bat speed.
    The test showed that a solid bat provides more solid contact than a corked bat. The corked bat compresses more than a solid bat on impact, meaning that more of the energy is absorbed by the bat and less is imparted to the ball itself. Even for a singles hitter, solid impact mattters. It could be the difference between a dribbler that a infielder reaches and one that skirts into the outfield.
    If bat speed is your concern then choke up, shave the handle, get a shorter bat, whatever, but do something LEGAL.

  18. Steve - Jun 9, 2010 at 11:27 AM

    I just don’t understand how one can argue that steroids do not improve performance. The vast majority of power hitters from this era have been linked to steroid usage and after almost 40 years of nobody hitting 60 home runs it became commonplace over a 5 year period. Nobody had ever approached the home run totals these players were putting up at the turn of the century and nobody had ever posted their best seasons starting at such an advanced age. There may be no conclusive studies showing that steroids helped these players, and I’m not denying that they were incredibly gifted athletes to begin with but common sense seems to dictate that what the players of this era were using helped them post such incredible power numbers.

  19. SeanD - Jun 9, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    Gotta side with Trevor B on the reason for the benefits of a corked bat. If the hitter is thinking curveball and realizes at the last fraction of a second it’s a fastball, the lighter bat (i.e. corked bat)will give him a better chance of getting bat on ball, which could mean the difference between a fair or foul ball or between a foul ball or strikeout – both of which should improve the batting average. Choking up or a shorter bat would accomplish the same thing, but limits the reach. As far as shaving the handle, I haven’t done the calculations, but you would have to take off significantly more weight from the handle to equal the impact of weight off the barrel (moment of inertia).

  20. Aaron - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    HGH & corked bats don’t help anyone? You’re an idiot. Who gave you permission to use a typewriter/keyboard?

  21. Omega - Jun 9, 2010 at 1:19 PM

    I can imagine Pete stopping by this board and reading with weepy eyes all the posts against him. He decides he is gonna do something about it and invents a time machine to travel back to his rookie year and give himself a little pep talk….
    All of us sitting here pondering on the Pete Rose is a Cheater question will change nothing. It won’t change who the man he has decided to be, it won’t erase his actions as a player and a manager, it won’t change his accomplishments on the field and at bat.

  22. Andy - Jun 9, 2010 at 4:05 PM

    I think many of you miss the point of a corked bat. Keep in mind that while a smaller bat will increase swing speed it might not increase bat speed. That is why you cork a bat. Imagine 2 differently sized spinning wheels. They can spin at the same RPM’s but the larger one will be going faster. A smaller bat doesn’t help but a larger lighter one will. Shaving the handle is also not going to help as it’s the weight on the end that matters most.
    Also, I see no reason not to doubt everything i’ve ever seen on Mythbusters. Their shoddy half-assed science continually amazes me.

  23. fasteddie - Jun 12, 2010 at 9:59 PM

    Why do players cork bats if corked bats don’t help? Answer: people don’t always behave rationally. Often, people will prefer anecdote and tradition to science and data. Basketball players, coaches, and fans still believe in the “hot hand” myth despite every shred of available data refuting it. Many nurses and police officers believe a full moon causes more emergencies even though exhaustive studies reject the idea. And millions of people believe stars and planets determine their fate despite the enormous stupidity of it all. The reason we have science is because “common sense” is usually wrong.
    Perhaps Rose used a corked bat because he knew it might turn a few flyballs into singles. If that was his belief, then he would have the rare exception: a player who knew that the true effect of a corked bat is to absorb energy. Regardless, plenty of power hitters have used, or have been accused of using, corked bats. Clearly, those types of batters are not trying to dampen the result of their swing. As the Mythbusters (and others) have correctly shown, the only possible benefit of corking a bat may be a psychological benefit akin to a placebo.

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