This weekend marked an ignominious anniversary in Cubs lore, as it has been exactly 15 years since Sammy Sosa’s bat split open on a ground ball, revealing a terrible secret.
15 years ago today, Sammy Sosa was busted with a corked bat. pic.twitter.com/snDMUhR9K8
— Cubs Talk (@NBCSCubs) June 3, 2018
It was such a shocking thing, to have a superstar – a declining superstar, but a superstar just the same – busted for such an egregious bit of cheating, and in such a public, indisputable way. The inside of Sosa’s bat was laid as bare as his crime.
Sosa, who was suspended eight games for the incident, had been in a month-plus slump before the incident (.213/.294/.311, 61 wRC+), which gave folks all the ammo they needed to presume Sosa’s bat choice had been intentional. He, of course, claimed that the bat was made for batting practice to impress fans, and he simply grabbed the wrong bat for the game. Knowing how players are with their equipment, the explanation has always been dubious at best. (At least cork was not found in any of the historic bats of his that had been collected over the years.)
That the whole thing happened in the magical 2003 season was – to me – always the greatest affront. I will admit that I’ve almost completely swept the corking under my mental rug, because I want to think only good things about that season. Well, except for the ending, of course.
Sosa’s corking suspension was the last time we’ve seen a player busted for this particular offense. The fact that, you know, bats break surely makes it among the riskier cheats available, coupled with some questionable science to back up just how effective it would be.
What an odd chapter in Cubs history.