Mickey Mantle Likely Corked Bats
The USA Today recently reported in its “For The Win” section that Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle corked bats late in his career. What does this mean? Let’s break it down.
It is hard to say how many home runs or RBI or any other stat were produced off of Mantle’s corked bats. We also don’t know when he did it, how many times he did it, how many bats were corked and more importantly if it really helped “The Mick” make solid contact.
Is this cheating? Yes, but it’s a little different. Mantle tried to get an edge, clearly, as his body and career were breaking down. But this isn’t steroids. This isn’t prolonging a career, breaking home run records at an advanced age and then disappearing from the game. Corked bats don’t dramatically change production like steroids. The peaks and valleys in production aren’t there, no matter how good or bad the player is or no matter how much or how little the player is slumping at the time of corking.
Mantle was most likely done when he tried corking bats. Are all of his numbers legit still? Probably, because we cannot prove how any corked bats increased numbers. Mantle hit 40 home runs and 109 RBI combined during his last two years and couldn’t run or field. That was at age 36 and 37, respectively (Mantle also hit just .255 in 1965 at age 34 and had less RBI (46) than his last three seasons with New York and only 19 home runs). Barry Bonds, on steroids, hit 73 home runs in 2001 and hit .328 with 137 RBI. AT AGE 37!
What is the point? Mantle clearly wasn’t healthy and was breaking down at the end. The corked bats didn’t help him that much. Bonds had his share of injuries but his health was helped and fixed, as was his production, by steroids, allowing him to hit at a beyond elite level when he should have been breaking down more. Think Willie Mays in a Mets uniform, not Bonds hitting balls to the middle of McCovey Cove.
The verdict: Leave Mantle’s stats alone. Keep attacking Bonds’ and any other steroid clown’s numbers all you want. Corked bats aren’t steroids. Not even close.
By: Mike Lindsley, “Mid-Day with Mike,” 1-4, Yankees pre/post game host on 104.5 The Team ESPN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @MikeLSports.