Monday, October 23, 2006

World Series: Sc-hand-al!
Was Kenny Rogers Cheating?

Monday A.M. Quickie below.

(Or click on link above.)

Did Kenny Rogers have an illegal substance on his hand in the 1st inning -- or was it just dirt, like he claims?

Or is the REAL dirt simply the sensationalistic suspicions being thrown around by analysts and fans?

Who cares? It was gone by the 2nd, and Rogers only went on to pitch 7 more scoreless innings to go with the 1st, giving him 23 scoreless innings pitched in a row in the playoffs, which is insane.

(Hell, I think it would be even cooler if he DID use some help; nothing says "crafty veteran pitcher" like being able to use an illegal substance to take 10 years off his mileage.)

A lot is being made of the inconsistencies between Rogers' explanations and what appears to be, uh, reality. (The gist: He says he washed it off on his own; others say he was told to wash it off by umps.)

Even though I can appreciate the suspicions, Rogers has all those zeros from the 2nd inning through the 8th inning (not to mention the previous 15 scoreless playoff innings) to give him the benefit of the doubt.

Question: Am I crazy for playing down his cheating? Or does his post-1st inning shut-out innings make the "scandal" moot-ish?

-- D.S.


john (east lansing, mi) said...

I'm really upset about this, because I've now attended 23 innings of scoreless pitching by The Gambler in the last 3 weeks, and I didn't even realize this was happening, and I'm not sure what I believe (in fact, I'm not even sure what my options are... I'll need to see the whole press conference or a transcript, because the sound bites alone, out of order, don't make much sense).

Many of the signs point in a direction I don't like, but then, a lot of stuff that happened seems to be poorly explained.

I think, assuming one is innocent until proven guilty (and I don't think, at this point, that there could ever be a way to prove Kenny did anything wrong), that I'm really upset at two groups, who dropped the ball. The umpires, and the Cardinals.

Umpires - if this was a real concern, about which Jim Leyland was approached and everything, it should have been looked into correctly. You can't just offhandedly mention something like this and not pursue it.

Likewise, Cardinals - you've gotta back up your shit. If you're gonna throw dirt on a guy (pun certainly intended), take it to the officials and get it taken care of right. You can't just suggest a guy was cheating after you did nothing about it. That's on the order of slander, and it adds an unnecessary, disgusting question-mark to an otherwise incredible postseason streak.

If anyone thinks I should be upset at Leyland and Rogers, I could see that being an opinion. But, like I said, innocent 'til guilty, so I am acting like Rogers did nothing wrong; what more should a guy do, besides wash his hand when somebody points out that it's dirty? It's not like it was Jim's or Kenny's responsibility to register a complaint with the officials. I think if my hand actually had dirt on it, I would think nothing of washing it right off without submitting it to a proper inspection process.

Big D said...

Look at the frontpage on ESPN right now... two photos - one from the ALCS, one from last night.

Same "dirt" spot, same place, same relative size.

I'd believe Rogers more if he said it was betadyne or some other anti-septic from a cortizone shot or something of that ilk. But to say that it's dirt, when there is obviously going to be photographic evidence suggesting that it's been there for at least one other game, makes it just a wee bit tough to believe.

There goes Kenny - arguing with photographers again...

Brave Sir Robin said...

There are pictures showing it on ESPN (from the ALCS and last night).

Next up, I'm supposed to care about this with Gaylord Perry in the hall of fame? Not happening. That man once had a ball get fouled off that left a splatter on the press box window.

Brave Sir Robin said...

Don't forget to add in that the Cardinals suck.

FreKy J said...

It's quite possible that the way he handles a baseball, combined with the way major league grounds crews wet down the dirt on the field causes mud to accumulate on that spot on his hand. The picture of his hand in the ALCS shows that same brown spot, but it shows to be smeared, as if he's wiped his hand at some point.

If it was an illegal substance, or suspected as such, he wouldn't have been asked to wipe off his hand, he would have been tossed from the game.

William Joseph said...

Greg Zaun of the Blue Jays does analysis between innings on the Canadian channel. He said he is sure what was on Rogers hand was Pine Tar, but that so many pitchers do it that umps usually don't care. So to him it was a non-issue.

Christian Thoma said...

It has nothing to do with Joe Buck being a homer, it has to do with Joe Buck being an idiot and beating every little thing he discusses to death. It's like he's OCD.

Jake C said...

Here's my he really THAT stupid to put an illegal substance on a spot THAT evident to the naked eye, let alone still images?

john (east lansing, mi) said...

"scott" - I can't tell which way you're coming down on this. Your comment seems to fold back on itself so many times that I can't tell if you think Kenny was cheating, you think Tony LR made the right move by not having the umps look into this, you actually think Fox's coverage was good, and/or you think Kenny's 2nd through 8th innings make Dirtgate insignificant. It sounds to me like you have at least 2 conflicting opinions. But I'm not sure.

TBender said...

I'd hardly call Detroit's bats alive after scoring a whopping 3 runs.

Not happy with the way LaRussa shrugged off the pinetar/dirt but it had little bearing on the game. Rogers is a lefty, and the Cards don't hit lefties very well.

And thanks Chrth for pointing out Buck isn't as much of a Cards' homer as everyone makes him out to be. Most Card fans want him to be more of a homer instead of the non-partisan national announcer.

nep1293 said...

Cheating in Baseball? I am outraged.

Just make everything legal. Cork, Steroids, Hand Goo, Aluminum Bats.

Seriously i couldn't give a crap anymore

Christian Thoma said...


Let's not go nuts, Joe Buck can be a homer. But for example, his call during Endy's catch in Game 7 was totally non-biased. In the end, his OCD is greater than his homerism, but both are present.

Brian in Oxford said...

Are those Holiday Inn ads with Buck the worst things going? If someone were to touch my neck like that, I might just dribble spit out my mouth just to creep the guy out.

I would like to see Buck work with a better partner. I'm not the biggest Joe Morgan fan around, but I think that could work, because Morgan's about as non-funny a guy can be in a booth. Might keep them focused on the game.

(oh, and I haven't actually entered any jigsaw puzzle competitions, but if it does become the next poker, I guess I would have to think about turning pro, huh...)

Raizor's Edge said...

I'm sorry, but I think this is 100% media-created. Why? Apparently, when there are no New York teams in the World Series, the ratings tank. I don't know why, but they do. So Fox is creating a "controversy" to boost ratings. People will want to tune in Tuesday night (even though Rogers isn't pitching, and may not pitch again in the Series if one of the two teams goes on to win the next three games).

Remember, LaRussa studied law, and if he thought he had a legitimate case against Kenny Rogers, he certainly wouldn't have been so tight-lipped about it, friendship or no friendship with Jim Leyland. I think it's just the media making a mountain out of a molehill (or, in this case, a dirt hill) in order to get the World Series ratings up.

ToddTheJackass said...

Here's a question... suppose that it really was a mixture of wet dirt and rosin, but that he strategically is putting it there to smudge the ball...

Since those two substances are defined as legal in baseball, would it be illegal of him to just intentionally have that on his pitching hand? Basically what I'm asking is, could he be legally doctoring the baseball?

MP said...


It was off his hand after inning 1, who cares?

The King of Carrot Flowers said...

First of all I am a long time Tigers fan and from Michigan. That was pine tar on Roster's fingers. Dirt and rosin don't shine under the lights. The fact is many pitchers (especially old guys) do that in cold weather. It doesn't really help out a guy's stuff, it adds feel and grip when your fingers are cold as ice. Nobody says anything about it because there is no competitive advantage to doing it. Uni Watch threw in its two cents claiming his hat is rigged so he can cheat. This has really gotten messy and I feel some folks are trying to get into Kenny's head. It's a shame because he is pitching lights out and should get praises rather than criticism, but that's how things happen. In case anyone wanted to know when Lou was in the booth in the Oakland series he claimed that he knows many guys put tar on their hands in the cold. Baker just re-inforced those sentiments on Monday night so it is a non-issue and you can't really argue with Lou and Dusty about the finer details of being a crafty veteran. P.S. Along these lines (cheating) I have also heard from many of my baseball loving physics professors in college that "corking" a bat does nothing to make the ball travel farther. There really should be a formal study on this because it would put to rest many of these crumby "theories" Stark and Buck want to dream up.

mark said...

It seems like the most important detail is that LaRussa said nothing. That old saw, "it isn't cheating if you get away with it," isn't at all accurate. But it is correct that it isn't cheating if the guy on the other end of it knows about it and doesn't give a hang. Arguably, that simply moves the line as to what's cheating and what isn't.

As to why ratings go down if it isn't NY or BOS involved, the reason is that it's the media's own darn fault. For the past decade they've been selling baseball as the Yankees, the Red Sox, and twenty-eight teams for the above to beat up on. When the Yankees and the Red Sox don't show up, they have no built-up hype to fall back on. Since many people's response to TV is basically Pavlovian (i.e., learned responses to arbitrary stimuli), it's hard to whip up excitement for another matchup on short notice.

Also, it's hard to whip up hype for a matchup when the media itself knows nothing about the teams involved. I sat through last year's world series here in Chicago cringing every time Joe Buck mispronounced "Podsednik."