You want to believe him. Sammy Sosa seemed like the kind of guy who achieved great things on the baseball field through pure talent and hard work. But the explanation for his corked bat at last night’s game seems a little fishy.

He says it was the bat he uses for batting practice, when he wants to put a show on for the fans, and it was never intended to be used in a game.

If that’s the case, shouldn’t he have marked the corked bat differently? Put a big X on the end. Paint it a different color. Take out a Sharpie and write “BP ONLY!” right on the sweet spot. Something so this mistake could never happen.

I don’t buy the “only for practice” excuse. Don’t most players like to swing bigger lumber when they’re warming up — like the donut on the bat in the on-deck circle — so that later, during the game, their regular bat will feel lighter and easier to use? A corked bat wouldn’t give you that effect, but just the opposite.

The sad thing is that, even if he is telling the truth, everything’s tainted now, including those balls he hit during batting practice, when he was “putting on a show for the fans.” If I’d caught one of those pre-game balls, I’d want to know it got to me off his regular bat because of his amazing homer-hitting ability — not because he had juiced the bat, or the ball, or moved the outfield wall in, or any other excuse. An honest ball hit off an honest bat by an honest superstar is special. Anything else isn’t a show, it’s a fraud. Besides, if he’s only concerned about putting on a show, he should take BP with an aluminum bat, which would really make the balls fly.

I want to believe him. I’d hate to see his accomplishments tarnished, which I’m afraid they now are, through no one’s fault but his.

Unless, of course, we discover that the corked bat was made by Martha Stewart.