Everything you always wanted to know about Sammy Sosa's bat controversy, in a very special bonus edition of Ask Paul Sullivan.
I have a question stemming from the corked bat incident. As far as I can tell, players cork their bats in the belief that it makes the bats lighter and therefore generates more bat-speed. So why don't these players simply use a lighter bat? I can't seem to find anywhere in the rules that says the bats must be a certain weight? Thanks in advance for your answer. --Qi Chen, Santa Barbara, Calif.
You're absolutely right. According to all the reports, including one today by Tribune reporter Julie Deardorff, there is no real advantage to corking a bat. Steve Stone says the real difference is that a player will be using the handle of a heavier bat that has a lighter feel to it, and it helps him swing through the zone faster and theoretically increase his chances of making contact. A lighter bat would have a smaller handle. Maybe that's the most ironic part of the whole Sammy Sosa saga. He didn't have any real advantage to doing it, and has to pay the price in the Hub-Bub heard round the world.
You White Sox lover. I bet you love this Sosa controversy. You probably planted the bat! --Donny Friend, Logansport, Ind.
I did not plant the bat. Like Dusty Baker, I've never even seen a corked bat. This is a complete and utter falsehood!
Do most major league baseball players keep 76 extra bats? And how big is the locker that held this stash? How many of these bats does Sammy take with him on road trips? --Mike Phipps, Greenwood, Ind.
According to Cubs equipment manager Tom Hellmann, Sosa has the most bats of anyone on the team, and I believe he's among the tops in baseball for number of bats on the premises. Obviously there are far too many to be stored in his locker. Sammy likes his bats.
Is Mark Grace bitter? I ask this because ever since he left the Cubs he's been nothing but a jerk towards them. I'm referring to the comments he made after leaving the Cubs and now the sarcasm that he is spewing at Sammy Sosa. Can't Mark Grace get over his bitterness at being released? He was my favorite player once and I was happy he won the World Series--until I heard comments from him following the World Series and comments he is now making towards Sosa. Today I would not even shake his hand, in fact, I'd spit at his feet. --Mariusz Zaczek, League City, Texas
We here at Ask Paul do not condone spitting on anyone's feet. However, Grace should have been smart enough to refrain from making so much fun of the Sosa controversy. Dusty Baker criticized Grace this morning, basically calling it classless. Most players consider their profession as a tight fraternity, and don't go around making fun of their peers. Grace may have stepped over the line, and it will be interesting to see how Cubs fans react when he comes to town for perhaps the last time on Aug. 1-3.
Roger Maris had an asterisk next to his record in the record books because of the 162 game schedule. With the recent bat incident, shouldn't Sammy Sosa? --Ted Rzeszuto, Downers Grove, Ill.
The asterisk next to Maris' name was removed, and there should be no asterisk next to Sosa's name, unless you plan to put asterisk next to the names of Gaylord Perry, Ty Cobb and the rest of baseball list of dirty rotten cheaters.
Will this incident keep Sosa out of the Hall of Fame? --Carlos Garrido, Santo Domingo, Dominican Repulic
Not likely. Sosa's career numbers are too strong for him not to be included in the Hall of Fame, not to mention the three 60-plus home run seasons. But I could envision some sportswriters leaving him off their ballot in protest. His relationship with the national media isn't what it was three or four years ago (I'm not talking about TV obviously), leaving him vulnerable to petty vendettas like that.
Have you ever used a pencil with cork in it? If so, do you use it for answering reader questions? --John Ebbert, New York
I have never used a pencil with cork in it. Like Dusty Baker, I have never even seen a pencil with cork in it.
What kind of impact will Sammy's corked bat have on this weekend's Yankees-Cubs series, especially with Roger Clemens going after win 300 on Saturday? Maybe some of the Sammy nay-saying will die down, allowing Clemens to bask in his glory, should he beat the Cubs for No. 300. What do you think Paul? --Laurence Hartnett, Caduz, Ky.
I don't think Sammy's corked bat will have any impact whatsoever on the Yankees-Cubs series, and I don't know which nay-sayers you are referring to, nor whether Clemens will bask in his glory should they die down.
Paul do you think it is time to trade Sammy Sosa? He strikes out too much and is not producing for the Cubs. I could say that he is a liability to the ball club. Trade him now while you can get 10 players for him. --Paris Mosley, Chicago
Yes, he strikes out too much and is not producing for the Cubs right now, but I say that he is an asset to the ball club, Paris. I'm not so sure you could get 10 players for Sammy, so better keep him until his warranty expires.
Paul, it makes sense that dangerous but free-swinging hitters like Sammy Sosa would have both high strike out and high walk numbers. But how is it that hitters like Mark Bellhorn and Hee Seop Choi end up near the top in strikeout and walk categories? Pitchers certainly aren't pitching around these guys, so they must have patience and a good sense of the strike zone, yet swing through a lot of pitches. Perhaps you could get a comment from Sarge on the peculiarity of a .230 hitter having as many walks as hits. Or is it not even that peculiar? Thanks. --Matt Kruse, Chicago
Actually there are many players with low batting averages that have a high on-base percentage because of their ability to take walks. Hee Seop has a good eye but is still young and learning to hit inside pitches, which leads to strikeouts. Bellhorn knows the strike zone but has had trouble making contact.
OK, Paul, now that Sosa's been caught corking his bat, are we going to learn that you've also been corking your columns? --Ross Williams, Edwardsville, Ill.
I was only trying to increase my vocabulary and accidentally grabbed the wrong thesaurus. I apologize to my Tribune teammates and all the Ask Paul readers who come here in search of knowledge, only to come away empty-handed.
Hey, Paul, I'm sure you've heard about the new QuesTec strike zone system that made Curt Schilling go mad. Two questions: is the system implemented at Wrigley, and do you think it hurts the game? --Paul Sohn, Wilmette, Ill.
What does this have to do with Sammy Sosa? OK. To answer your question, no the system isn't implemented at Wrigley, but I'm sure it could be in the future. I think it's ridiculous and arrogant that baseball believes it can remove human judgment from the game after it worked the first 100 or so years. No umpire is perfect. Some are better than others. But the majority of major league umpires are either very good or excellent and don't need to have a machine looking over their shoulder.
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