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?

Didi Gregorius continues to be ridiculous

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Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius had another fantastic night last night. He went 3-for-3, hitting a home run for the fourth game in a row, had an RBI single and reached base safely in all five of his plate appearances in New York’s 7-4 win over Minnesota.

For the year that gives Gregorius a line of .372/.470/.833, putting him atop the American League in average, slugging, OPS, and OPS+. He also leads the league in total bases (65) and RBI (29). He leads all of baseball in fWAR at 2.2, edging out Mike Trout despite the fact that Trout has played in two more games. He’s second behind Trout in homers with nine.

After last night’s game he insisted that he is not a home run hitter:

“I do have a lot of home runs, but it’s not like I am going out there to try to hit them . . . I’m not a power guy like Judge and Stanton, who hit 50 to 60 and up. Those are the guys who actually hit home runs. One year, let’s say, I hit five — then you ask me where that part went . . . if they go out, they go out. I’m just mostly trying to barrel it up and get a good swing . . . I try to hit line drives and if you check most of my home runs they were line drives,” he said. “It’s not like I am going up to hit deep fly balls.”

Given that he hit 25 homers last year and 20 the year before, he’s being a bit modest, even if he’s not likely to keep up this torrid pace. That modesty is not stopping some people from getting a bit carried away, of course:

 

We’ll forgive Bob for the hyperbole. Didi has been fun to watch.