SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — So, 76 of Sammy Sosa's bats were sent to radiology and found to be free of infection and corked insertion.
The diagnosis would suggest that the Chicago Cub right fielder was right, that in a game situation Tuesday night he had simply made the mistake of going to the plate with a bat that had been corked to better allow him to put on a show for fans in batting practice, and for that he was sorry and apologetic.
No harm, no foul?
Give me a break.
It's kind of like what Angel right fielder Tim Salmon was saying here Wednesday, where the heat and humidity of the Caribbean hurricane season was compounded by the searing news that Sosa had employed an illegal bat, putting at risk his enormous stature and popularity, tainting his Hall of Fame credentials.
"Look," Salmon said, "you get a supply of bats, save the good ones [on the basis of feel and grain] for games, and put the bad ones aside for batting practice.
"It's the tool of our trade. You should know, and I think everyone does, what you're carrying to the plate."
In other words, Salmon was suggesting, without specifically saying it, Sosa had to be aware of the corked bat in his hands, which would mean he had to be aware that it could break and expose his 505 home runs to suspicion, that he had to be aware he could be suspended, depriving the division-leading Cubs of his productive services for perhaps 10 games shortly after returning from 15 days on the disabled list.
Call it dumb and dumber, which is not to say that Sosa's incredible home run explosion of the last five years -- he hit 292 from 1998 to 2002, including an unprecedented 60-plus in three seasons -- was built on a total deception, but 76 X-rayed bats aren't going to remove this sudden cloud of suspicion.
How many bats were hidden during that acknowledged gap before the 76 were confiscated?
Why, with everything Sosa has going, would he even have a corked bat in his possession if not to use in a game?
What more of a show does Sosa need to produce in batting practice, considering the show he often puts on when it counts?
"I don't understand," said Frank Robinson, the Hall of Fame outfielder who now manages the Montreal Expos and who agreed with Salmon, saying there is no way a player can make the mistake that Sosa claims he made.
"If you don't know you have your batting practice bat when you leave the dugout, you certainly would realize it before you got to the plate," Robinson said. "Most BP bats are marked, taped or beat up from use. I mean, why cork a bat just to use it in batting practice? Besides, with the gates opening later now [as clubs save money on staffing], very few fans see batting practice when your team is home."
Robinson, of course, was baseball's discipline czar before becoming the Expo manager, but he refused to say what penalty he would put on Sosa without giving him the benefit of a face-to-face meeting.
"I don't like to pass judgment," Robinson said, "but I do think it's a shame that a player of his stature, the type person he has become for young people in [the U.S.], his own country [the Dominican Republic] and throughout Latin America, would taint himself in this way. I'm really surprised, and the fact that he apologized doesn't make it go away.
"If you commit a crime and admit it [Sosa didn't have to because the evidence was apparent when the bat broke]), does that lessen the crime?"
This wasn't a crime, of course, unless self-immolation is a crime.
One of baseball's most marketable players has possibly burned every dollar while incinerating his credibility and scarring peers in the process.
Pitchers can scuff baseballs and hitters can swing corked bats, but when one is caught, especially one of Sosa's renown, it's a very wide net of guilt by association.
"If one of the best hitters in the game is using a corked bat, people have to be wondering how many guys without his ability are using one," Montreal catcher Michael Barrett said.
"The league has to make the penalty tougher. A few years ago, Albert Belle got fined $25,000 for using a corked bat. What was that to a guy who probably made an extra million or two while he was using it?"
Angel Manager Mike Scioscia agreed, saying the deterrent in cases such as Sosa's has never compensated for the damage to baseball's integrity or been strong enough to stop others.
"What's a 10-game suspension if the guy has won 10 games using a corked bat?" said Scioscia, who insisted that he is familiar with cork only because he occasionally removes it from a bottle of wine. "I know it gives the hitter a considerable advantage, and that if you're not going to make the penalty strong enough, you might as well let everyone use a corked bat and see all the records go out the window.