|Corking the silver screen|
By Jim Caple
Page 2 columnist
So where are we most likely to see Sammy Sosa's corked, splintered bat? In Cooperstown or on eBay?
Will this soil Sosa's reputation? Probably. But it's difficult to say how much. After all, baseball has a way of winking at cheats more than punishing them. Unashamedly throwing a spitball certainly didn't keep Gaylord Perry out of Cooperstown.
Time will tell how Sammy's reputation fares. Meanwhile, I'm trying to imagine how differently certain movies would have played had their main characters taken such a cavalier approach to baseball's rule book ...
[We see the ball, in extreme closeup and in super-slo motion, head to the plate. HOBBS swings and hits a long fly to right -- it's going, it's going, it's . . . a foul ball. The crowd slumps in disappointment. Dejected, HOBBS turns around and starts to trot back to home plate. And then we see, horror of horrors, that Wonderboy is broken.
[Worse, it appears to have been hollowed out and filled with cork.]
UMPIRE: What's the deal, Roy?
HOBBS: Ummmm, errrrr . . . Don't ask me. I don't know how it got there.
UMPIRE: You don't know how cork got inside your bat? Which, as I recall, was specially carved by you?
HOBBS: You don't think I had anything to do with it, do you? [Laughs nervously] Ha! That's funny, ump. That's real funny.
UMPIRE: I'm not laughing.
HOBBS: Yeah, well, I can explain all this. . . . It's simple. . . . I mean, ummmm, that's not the real Wonderboy. Yeah, that's the ticket. That's a fake Wonderboy I only use in batting practice to impress the fans. The batboy, Eddie, must have accidentally given it to me.
IRIS GAINES: Yeah, you're a real peach aren't you? Do me a favor, will you Roy? Drop out of my life and don't call me for another 17 years.
UMPIRE: Get the hell out of here, you bum. You're suspended.
MAX MERCY: I always knew you were hiding something, you pathetic loser.
THE JUDGE: I'm going to the commissioner's office to make sure you never play in organized baseball again.
FANS: Roy Hobbs sucks! Roy Hobbs sucks! Roy Hobbs sucks!
[HOBBS trudges off the field in slo-motion as garbage showers down on him like fireworks. The screen slowly fades to black and then slowly brightens again as we see a father and son playing catch in a sun-drenched park. Then HOBBS, dressed in ragged clothes and drinking a bottle of cheap rum, shuffles past. As he passes, the father grabs his son and pulls him away protectively.]
FATHER: Son, there goes Roy Hobbs. He could have been the best there ever was. But he corked his bats. The lousy stinkin' SOB.
JACK: Wendy! Darling! Light of my life. I'm not going to hurt you.
WENDY: Stay away!
JACK: You didn't let me finish my sentence, Wendy. I'm not going to hurt you, I'm just going to bash your brains in.
[As JACK takes a step toward her, WENDY smacks him over the head with the Louisville Slugger. JACK collapses down the stairs, dead.
[The OUTLOOK's summer caretaker, DICK HALLORAN, arrives and helps WENDY drag JACK'S body into a meat locker.]
HALLORAN: I never thought a skinny thing like you would be able to hit him hard enough to stop him.
WENDY: And I wouldn't have been able to except I corked the bat, providing me crucial bat speed and allowing me to really get my arms extended and drive the head of the bat through the hitting zone.
[The lieutenants nod their heads in agreement.]
CAPONE: There is no room for anyone who places himself above the good of the team. There is no room for any stinking, slimy rat who sells out his teammates! THERE IS NO ROOM FOR ANY PLAYER WHO HIDES PROFITS FROM HIS TEAMMATES!!!
[He takes the bat and brutally bludgeons a lieutenant who had betrayed him.]
CAPONE: Do I make myself perfectly clear on teamwork?
[The horrified lieutenants nod their heads in agreement.]
LIEUTENANT No. 1: Wait a minute. Is that cork I see?
LIEUTENANT No. 2: It sure looks like cork. You didn't cork your bat, did you, boss?
CAPONE: What are you, nuts? Why would I cork my bat?
LIEUTENANT No. 3: Are youse guys suggesting the Boss's swing is not powerful enough on its own? That he has to cork his bat like Dillinger or Baby Face Nelson?
LIEUTENANT No. 4: I certainly hope that's not what you're suggesting.
LIEUTENANT No. 1: Oh, no. You mistake us. We were not suggesting anything of the sort.
LIEUTENANT No. 2: In fact, now that I look at it more closely I see that it is not cork at all. It's just brain matter.
CAPONE: Good. And remember, there is no 'I' in team.
CRASH: Look, Nuke, these big league hitters are going to light you up like a pinball machine for awhile. Don't worry about it. You be cocky and arrogant even when you're getting beat. That's the secret. You gotta play this game with fear and arrogance.
NUKE: Fear and ignorance.
NUKE: I know, I know. I just like seeing you get all worked up. Besides, you don't have to worry about me. I learned the secret to being a winning pitcher.
CRASH: You're not talking about wearing Annie's underwear?
NUKE: What, do you think I'm stupid? No, I learned this little secret in a conversation I had in the bullpen with the pitching coach a couple weeks ago. He taught me how to throw a spitball. He showed me the whole works. Where to hide the vaseline. How to load it up on the ball. What it will do. And I got to tell you. I can make that baby drop clean off the table.
CRASH: I thought that was your splitter.
NUKE: Nope. Spitball. And it's going to make me a Cy Young winner.
CRASH: So, if you're so sure the secret is your spitball, why are you packing Annie's garter and panties?
NUKE: Oh, that. I just like wearing women's underwear. It was never about pitching good. I just like the feel of the silk under my clothes. It's kind of exciting, you know?
Jim Caple is a senior writer for ESPN.com.