It’s quite a cheatin’ day around baseball, so why not throw this one on the bonfire:
A corked bat reportedly swung by Yankees legend Mickey Mantle is hitting the auction block – the Mick’s first known doctored bat.
Grey Flannel Auctions is auctioning the Hillerich & Bradsby Co. bat, which was studied by PSA/DNA authenticator John Taube. Taube noticed alterations at the top of the bat’s barrel, and X-rays showed that the barrel had been drilled and filled with cork.
“This is the first corked bat of Mantle that we have seen or heard of,” Taube wrote in his report.
Don’t literally throw it on the bonfire, though. It’s a very valuable piece of baseball memorabilia.
Anyway, between this and Buchholz, I hope we’re all reminded that players have scuffed or cut balls, corked their bats, rigged up elaborate, electric sign-stealing mechanisms allowing them to win pennants they didn’t deserve, distracted umpires, cut corners on bases, tripped or obstructed opposing runners, sharpened their spikes, fixed baseball games and took steroids over the years. And while instances of such rule-breaking should always be punished when caught, the game has always survived it somehow, so we should probably moderate our outrage at any one instance.
Fellow second basemen Javier Baez of the Cubs and D.J. LeMahieu of the Rockies got into a disagreement in the top of the third inning of Sunday’s game at Coors Field over sign-stealing.
LeMahieu reached on a fielder’s choice ground out, then advanced to second base on Charlie Blackmon‘s single. While Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story were batting, Baez was concerned that LeMahieu was relaying the Cubs’ signs to his teammates. Baez decided to stand in front of LeMahieu to block any information he might have been giving to Arenado and Story. LeMahieu got irritated and the two jawed at each other for a bit. Umpires Vic Carapazza and Greg Gibson had to intervene to tell Baez to knock it off.
There has always been a back-and-forth with alleged sign-stealing. As long as teams aren’t using technology to steal signs, it’s fair game for players to relay information to their teammates about the opposing team’s signs. Last year, MLB determined the Red Sox went against the rules and used technology — an Apple watch in this case — to steal signs from the Yankees. Other teams in the past have been accused of using binoculars from the bullpen to steal signs. In this particular case with Baez and LeMahieu, there was no foul play going on, just Baez trying to make the Rockies cede what he perceived to be their slight competitive advantage.
The Cubs went on to beat the Rockies 9-7 on Sunday.