Who else finds it fascinating that the focus of Kenny Rogers' alleged-presumed-assumed cheating has shifted in the last 24 hours from the offending pitcher to the offensive manager -- of the opposing team?
On Sunday, Tony LaRussa downplayed the whole thing. I don't think he imagined the shitstorm that would hit yesterday morning -- and how his downplaying of it would circle back to bite him in the ass.
LaRussa's attempt to tamp it down totally underestimated the more dominant power of media: Photos allowed fans everywhere to draw their OWN conclusions – and LaRussa's claims didn't pass a basic smell test. You didn't have to be a "genius" baseball manager to see with your own eyes that it LOOKED like Rogers was cheating -- and had over the course of the playoffs. It eroded LaRussa's credibility with fans and media and set the stage for the story's evolution:
By Monday afternoon, Tony LaRussa was backtracking furiously: "I don't believe it was dirt."
Well, now he's in even MORE trouble. Because, if THAT's the case, it's more than reasonable for fans and critics to ask why the hell didn't he push the issue at the time?!
Cards hitting coach Hal McRae was more blunt:
"It was so blatant," he told USA Today. "What was so strange about it was how obvious it was, in the World Series. It's a shame a guy would cheat in a World Series game. It hurts the integrity of the game."
Well, Hal, if it was "so blatant," why didn't you push your boss to do something about it? How about taking a little responsibility?
And that's the fascinating upshot of the new twist to the story:
It's arguable that the bigger scandal was LaRussa's inaction – either out of some loyalty to buddy Jim Leyland or something else he has yet to explain sufficiently.
How about that? The guy who was cheating isn't the worst offender in this story; in fact, he (and his defenders) can simply point to the 2nd through 8th innings, when he pitched a shutout with clean hands.
Meanwhile, those same innings are a damning indictment of LaRussa's decision-making:
If LaRussa had done the right thing -- the competitively honorable thing -- he would have challenged
It was not on
It was squarely on LaRussa to challenge
For now, it's so interesting to watch this story pivot:
From Rogers' purported cheating to LaRussa's unquestionably damning inaction, which – I'm ready to argue – is worse than cheating: At best, it's negligence in the most important moment of his team's season; at worst, it's tanking for an old buddy sitting in the dugout across the field.
Stop worrying about whether
Because if Cards fans are looking for someone to blame, they can start with their own manager.-- D.S.