The Pedestal Toppling Blues

Sammy Sosa's Suspended and Back - Why Should We Care?

Sammy Sosa’s seven-game suspension for bat corking ended last week, amidst much snickering and two very respectable singles.

He refers to the incident in which his bat shattered, revealing a chunk of cheating squirreled into the base of his Louisville Slugger, as “the accident.” Oh. I wasn’t aware that the cork had burrowed its own way there.

More shattered than his bat that day, and nobody is talking about it much anymore. This is largely old news, having passed through nearly a month’s worth of twenty-four-hour news cycles.

An old story for a Cincinnati girl
It’s certainly old news to me: I’m from Cincinnati, home of Pete Rose, the team that lost to the 1919 Black Sox, and formerly Chris Sabo , whose career was ingloriously punctured by an episode involving a similarly broken bat crammed with cork. That Sosa ended his suspension in a game against the Reds reveals all that is good and balanced in baseball.

Otherwise, why should I care? The rest of his lumber hadn’t been touched. Sosa excused the presence of the juiced bat by claiming that he used it only for batting practice, to give, he said humbly, a show to us, the fans. (Fox Sports contends that Cubs BP ends approximately ten minutes before the gates open at Wrigley, well after the Sosas and the Alous tend to do their hammering for the pre-game day; the Cubs organization, on the other hand (plus Chi-town hearsay), claims Cubbie swinging away continues well into the fans arrival.)

Cheating is cheating
I care because even if the bat wasn’t meant for the game?and players, particularly sluggers, know their bats like they know their own fingers and toes, choosing the one that feels just right long before the Anthem is played?Sosa was cheating. If he wants to dazzle me, even in an exhibition setting, I want a legitimate homer. Otherwise, why bother? Anybody can slam dunk a basketball when somebody’s holding him two feet over the rim.

The news slayed me. Oh, Sammy, not you too. He was so genuine, so All-American, so swell.

And then it got worse. At first, Sosa accepted the consequences with characteristic good grace. Then came the curt “No comment’s.” Then he appealed his suspension, which reeked of “She said she was eighteen, officer, I swear.” Then he hinted that his problems were not attributable to that tiny sliver of cork, but to?oh, Sammy, not you too?racism.

Practicing safe admiration
Can’t you count on anyone? I thought last week as I drove to Mass. I was tired of idols toppling from pedestals. Wasn’t it safe to look up to anybody? Isn’t there anyone out there I can admire without having to worry about interns, high stakes gambling, undocumented nannies, or insider trading?

Well, I realized as the priest held the Eucharist aloft, yeah. There is.