Thursday, June 10, 2010

I Dont Like Rose, But I Still Dont Care About Recent News

I am not a Pete Rose fan, and I never really will be. The guy isnt one of the players I feel good about cheering for after studying and learning about his life. I am not going to deny, however, that he was one of the best baseball players ever to play the game. I will say that after meeting him in Vegas while he was sitting and watching closed circuit horse racing in a field of dreams, my view of him as a person could not get any lower.

Recently on Deadspin, a photograph has surfaced that contained an X-ray from one of Pete Rose's bats he used during the chase to reach Ty Cobb's all time record. In the X-ray, the bat that was put under the device shows a foreign object that would suggest without a shadow of a doubt that Rose had corked his bat. Despite my ill feelings about him, I have no problem saying that having a corked bat during that chase means ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. The reason being is that there is no way it could have helped him, and even more importantly, it probably hurt him more than helped.

According to controlled environment tests done on Mythbusters in 2007, they proved through scientific means that having a corked bat does not accomplish anything in getting better results at the plate. The ball doesn’t go further, the bat cant be swung faster, and the kinetic energy transferred to the ball is much less. So why would anyone even care? Why was this rule put in place if no scientific testing was done to determine the effects of using a corked bat? Even more importantly, no one really uses a corked bat to hit opposite field singles anyways. It just so happens that a person viewed nation wide as a villian has another chip on his shoulder.

From the Episode:

This myth operates under the assumption that cork-filled bats can be swung faster because of their lighter weight, and that the springiness of the cork could propel the ball farther. To eliminate the human factor of the myth, Adam and Jamie constructed a special batting rig and used a pressurized air cannon to launch the baseball at it. Tests showed that the cannon could launch the ball 80 miles per hour, which is the average speed of most MLB pitches. Regulation bats could propel the ball away at 80 mph (130 km/h) while corked bats could only propel the ball 40 mph (64 km/h), half the speed of regulation bats. The reason was that cork bats have less mass to transfer force into the ball, and the cork actually absorbs some of the ball's impact. The MythBusters concluded that using a cork filled bat will not improve performance (it will in fact hurt it), and the major league batters who were caught using cork-filled bats risked their careers for absolutely nothing.

My favorite part of this whole thing is that Rose notoriously sold "game used" bats rather than game used bats as a means to feed his gambling habit, so I hope that whoever this bat belongs to has some great provenance. I would expect they do, but why are they X-raying the bats to begin with? I get that people do crazy shit to prove their item's worth, but this is a little extreme. Even if Rose did use this bat, and it does have cork in it, based on the scientific evidence, the only help he got was mental. Besides, even with a corked bat, he still has to hit the actual ball, and that skill was at the top of his list of things he excelled at.

Basically people, there is no reason to call for an asterisk, even if you arent a fan. Bonds is the only one who would possibly deserve that award, and it is only because his accomplishment is directly effected by his use of performance enhancing drugs. On the other hand, if you want to throw the rule book at Rose, then it’s a little different. Despite a lack of improvement from using a corked bat, it IS still illegal in the game, and for that he is most definitely guilty if the bat can be authenticated. Otherwise, file this one under "who cares."


  1. Particularly after seeing the Mythbusters recap, I really can't care about whether Pete Rose corked his bat decades ago.

  2. Interesting post. I'm a Hockey guy myself, but I do like to hear about (in)famous baseball players.

    My only beef is this.
    Mythbusters is NOT science.
    Here's a behind the scene look where one of the mythbusters actually says that he only needs one hit with the corked bat and one with the regulation bat to prove his theory: hit... each. He says that he uses two but really...?

    If you want to, you can watch the important parts here:
    1:19 for non-corked
    2:10 for corked
    I'm a hockey fan and even I can tell the different between those two hits.

    Mythbusters only ever showed these two hits. The one at 1:19 was replayed over and over again (you can tell because in that hit, the ball actually collided with a piece of black plastic in mid air). There's a time at around 2:38 where he says "that hit (with the corked bat) was as good as any hit I've see with the regulation bat... but they still show the same clip from 1:19! We never see if the second hit was straight on or off center like the 2:10 hit was. If you look at all that behind the scenes stuff where they fiddled with milliseconds to get the hit just right. How much you want to bet that with the lighter bat they didn't adjust the timing?

    I'd say the school is still out on corked bats.

  3. I don't always totally buy into Myth Busters either, but I'll happily file this whole issue in my "who cares" folder.