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Speechless

There's not much more to say that hasn't already been said about Sammy Sosa being caught with a corked bat during last night's 3-2 Cub win over Tampa Bay; so I'll just add a few personal notes.

First of all, the ballpark is probably the worst place to be when something of this news magnitude occurs. Since Wrigley Field doesn't have a Jumbotron (and I'm not recommending that they get one, either) -- there's just the small message board to give information, and frankly, they almost never do. In fact, one of the between-inning ads that uses a bit of Cub history mentioned something else that Sammy had done in his career years ago, oblivious to the much bigger news going on last night.

So we were dependent on cellphone calls to get updates; Howard, who didn't make it to last night's game, was either calling us or we were calling him, getting information on what was going on. I did wind up listening to Sosa's postgame press conference and watched the rest of it at home. FSN's Dave Otto, a lousy game analyst but decent in-studio host, said that many players use corked bats for batting practice. That may be true, but if so, how one of them could have wound up in a situation where it could be used in a game is very suspicious.

I'd love to believe Sammy's claim that it was an "honest mistake", but I suspect MLB will suspend him. It's likely to be 10 games -- that's what they originally gave Albert Belle, the last really big star to get caught like this -- and probably reduced, as Belle's was, by appeal, to 7 games. And don't think this will happen right away -- I have to believe MLB will "allow" Sammy to play against the Yankees, and keep in mind the Cubs are making their first interleague visits to Baltimore and Toronto next week, and those clubs have sold a lot of tickets marketing Sammy's visit, so I suspect an appeal might be heard sometime next week, and any suspension could start during the Cincinnati series on June 16. The sport is so focused on money these days, that I'd say this is a very likely outcome.

Are corked bats so common that everyone does it? Probably. The one last night may just have been poorly enough made that it shattered, catching Sammy. Will it taint his accomplishments and career? I say no, and so did writer/historian Jerome Holtzman on our ABC-7 show this morning; but others disagree. We shall see. If it's true, damn, yes, I'm disappointed in him. He seemed to be living a very admirable life. I don't think Sammy Sosa needed to cheat, if in fact that's what he was doing. It's a shame, if it turns out to be the truth.

As far as last night's game is concerned -- Mike & Carole both showed up late and wound up nearly missing all the first-inning brouhaha, and earlier in the day I had sent Mike a stinker of a trivia question I had found at espn.com, upon which he responded by e-mail "Jeeeezus H. Keeeeerist", or something like that.

Oh, the game! Well, ex-Cub Jeremi Gonzalez (he's the second straight pitcher whose name is pronounced "Jeremy" to face the Cubs with an oddly spelled first name -- Jeriome Robertson of the Astros on Sunday the other -- though to be fair, the native of Venezuela's name is properly "Geremis", and Americanized to "Jeremi". But I digress.), back in the majors after five years battling elbow problems (and he'll get them again, with that odd motion of his), threw well, and though the Cubs hit him, they only scratched out a couple runs.

I was astounded that Lou Piniella didn't walk Ramon Martinez with first base open in the last of the 9th and pitch to Damian Miller, who's in a horrendous slump, especially after Al Levine threw two pitches way wide of the plate. Incidentally, Al's a personal friend of Brian's (who sits with us), and he and Mike both pointed out that Levine always pitches poorly in Chicago. This was Levine's first career appearance at Wrigley Field.

Finally, it was tremendously cold last night -- probably the coldest I've ever been at the ballpark in the month of June. I was telling people that the reason was because someone at the Cubs heard that Tampa Bay plays poorly in cold weather. Oops, wrong Tampa Bay team.

But all's well that ends well. The Cubs won the game and held first place for another day. We await more information on Sammy's fate later today.