On July 15, 1994, in a game where his Cleveland Indians were playing the Chicago White Sox, Belle decided to use a corked bat. Unfortunately for him, White Sox manager Gene Lamont was tipped off about the bat before the game. Lamont challenged the bat, and the umpire crew had it confiscated and locked away in the umpire's dressing room before the game began, with the intention to inspect it later.
The Indians, knowing that Belle's bat was corked, sent one of their players to retrieve the bat. In what can only be described as a real-life "Oceans 11" operation, relief pitcher Jason Grimsley maneuvered his way through the crawlspaces in the ceiling on his hands and knees and dropped down into the umpire's dressing room to steal back the corked bat while replacing it with a normal one. The operation, while temporarily successful, was not carried out with exact precision, and the umpires quickly discovered the deception after the game.
The incident created quite a hoopla, and only after the American League threatened to involve the FBI did Albert Belle return the corked bat. He was later suspended for seven games.
This could all have been avoided if Mr. Belle had considered basic physics. A corked bat is lighter, and thus has less inertia. Scientists have found that though players may be able to swing the corked bat faster, they still will not be able to hit the baseball farther.
Belle may have also fallen for the rumor of a mythical "trampoline effect" that occurs when a ball hits the corked bat. But this has been found to be non-existent. According to MythBusters, the cork inside the bat actually absorbs the kinetic energy from the baseball, thus hampering the batter's power.
Nine years after the Albert Belle affair, future baseball hall-of-famer Sammy Sosa was suspended eight games for using a corked bat. Luckily, he had the good sense to forgo a covert cover-up operation, but he still could have avoided the situation entirely if he had simply done his homework before he cheated.
(The Newton Blog in no way advocates cheating. We do, however, advocate doing your homework.)