Wednesday, May 7, 2008


Stupid and pointless acts are a part of sports. Things that seem like a good idea, on the spur of the moment, are rarely the gems that the individual thinks they are. Take Batgate for instance.

Before Albert Belle found a home at Comiskey Park, he was involved with the lore of the new park. This time with the newly heated rivals, thanks to realignment, the Cleveland Indians. Rumors were already flying around that Albert Belle was using corked bats and tensions were high.

On a side note, corked bats are actually hurting the hitter's chance at success. So, every player that used corked bats risked their careers and reputations for nothing. Thanks, Mythbusters!

Back in 1994, it was thought that corked bats were an unfair advantage that could make the ball fly farther. In reality, it just helped the psyche of the hitter's mind.

On July 15, 1994, White Sox manager, Gene Lamont, saw something unusual with Albert's bat and decided to challenge the legality of the lumber. Belle's bat was confiscated and locked away in the umpire's room. That's when things got weird.

Enter Jason Grimsley. Jason took it upon himself to climb into a narrow ceiling and break into the umpire's room to replace the bat. All of that was fine and dandy, except for one small detail. The bat that Jason replaced the "corked" bat with was not another one of Belle's bats. It was Paul Sorrento's.

You could see that it was not the same bat from across the room, but when Paul Sorrento's signature was staring the umpires in the face, it was clear that some devious work had gone on. The police were called and the Sox were angry. Belle was eventually suspended.

I could only imagine some hybrid of the Mission: Impossible and Get Smart theme songs were running through Jason Grimsley's mind at the time. The adventure seemed to assure that Belle did have a corked bat. Why else would a teammate go through that much trouble?

In an autobiography by Omar Vizquel, "Omar! My Life On And Off The Field", Omar seems to have an answer as to why an Indians player would go through that much trouble.

"I can be naive at times, but I'm not stupid. Certainly not stupid enough to steal Albert's corked bat and replace it with one that looked completely different -- one that was autographed by Paul Sorrento. That wasn't even a nice try.

"The problem, of course, was that all of Albert's bats were corked."

While there's certainly no evidence that Albert used corked bats with the White Sox or Orioles, there seems to be a multitude of evidence that he did use them early in his career. I certainly can't see a 6-3, 180 pound man climbing through a false ceiling to switch bats. At least not without creating such a commotion that even the luxury box owners know something is going on.

''It's funny now, but it got a little out of hand,'' Grimsley told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2000. ''Looking back, it might not have been the smart thing to do, but it seemed like a good thing at the time. It made for a pretty good story.''

1 comment:

capewood said...

Jason Grimsley, what a cut up! He's currently under a 50 game suspension for violating baseball's drug policy. As soon as somebody signs him he can begin serving his suspension. I can just imagine his agent at the negotiating table. "He's clean now, honest", and "It's early enough in the season that he'll have time for a few relief appearances before the end of the season".

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