Should we care about Pete Rose's corked bat?

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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.

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?

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
Matt Hazlett/Getty Images
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.