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?

Kyle Schwarber is “probably, arguably” in The Best Shape of His Life

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Joe Maddon just held his annual media availability here at the Winter Meetings. During the scrum he said that Kyle Schwarber “looked great the other day” at a Cubs community event and that . . . wait for it . . . “he’s in, probably, arguably in the best shape of his life.” Maddon went on to say that, if Schwarber looks good in spring training, he might even be the Cubs leadoff hitter in 2018.

Schwarber is only 24, but the former catcher turned outfielder is going to spend most of his career as a DH, with another team obviously, unless he shows the Cubs that he can be a regular defender. The Cubs would love to see him in better shape whether they keep him or shop him, and if it’s the latter, they’ll want to show potential trade partners that he can play defense so as not to limit his market. It’s in everyone’s interests for him to be lean, mean and a bit more flexible once spring training starts.

To that end, according to a recent report, Schwarber “has been on a mission this offseason to transform his body.” And now Maddon is playing up the BSOHL angle. Whether that’s salesmanship or not, all eyes are going to be on Schwarber come February.