Monday, October 23, 2006

What Was It?

As I expected...the St. Louis sports radio talk shows have lit up today with "Smudge-gate", "Dirt-gate", or "Tar-gate"...whatever you choose to call it.

If you missed it, Tigers lefty Kenny Rogers was shown on the national broadcast of World Series game 2 with some mysterious foreign substance gracing the thumb and wrist area of his throwing hand. It was obvious in the first inning. After some curious shots on TV of dugout discussions on both sides, and huddles between the umpires and managers, Rogers came out for the second inning with no obvious foreign matter on the hand. Whether it was totally washed-away...and what it was in the first place...was not well handled or effectively explained by any of the participants in the controversy after the game.

The whole thing leaves me asking the following questions...and wondering if Major League Baseball has taken another "we're-looking-the-other-way" public relations approach to the whole thing.
  • He wears a different type cap. I notice that Rogers wears a non-traditional type of cap. A low-profile model. It almost looks like a little-leaguer’s cap compared to what the other guys wear. Why would he do that? Does he have a spare cap to present to the umps if they ask to examine it after the game?
  • He wasn’t so fiery and jacked-up before his playoff success… Is he trying to impart a different type of mound demeanor to his newly-found superiority to distract everyone from the fact that he may be cheating? And at the same time is he giving the public and press a possible explanation for the overwhelming success he’s having in this post-season…success that he’s never had before?
  • Why didn’t Tony LaRussa challenge the stuff on the hand right away? Too much respect for buddy Jim Leyland?
  • Why wouldn’t LaRussa talk about it at all?
  • Why didn’t the umpires inspect Rogers’ equipment? Glove..cap..etc.
  • Why did the umpires, Leyland, and Rogers all have a different explanation of what the substance may have been and what went on during the game?
  • Why wouldn’t Rogers answer Fox’s Chris Meyers when he asked what was on his hand during the game?
  • What will MLB do about it now? Nothing? Will they let a possible cheater go unexamined? Shouldn’t they have impounded his equipment after the game? You could wipe off the obvious pine tar..and still have some somewhere…on the cap…on the glove…somewhere…just ask Gaylord Perry…he got caught with an emery board in his equipment once.
  • Why would Rogers cheat? Well...for one here's a soon-to-be 42-year-old guy who’s had so-so success during his career and gets a chance to shine on the stage of the World Series. He knows it’s probably going to be the last time he has a chance to distinguish himself. He doesn’t have enough confidence in his ability to pitch without an edge. He’s been the source of controversy before…the knocking down the TV cameraman thing in Texas last year…and desperately wants to go out by endearing himself to the fans of Detroit…and baseball.

The only thing that makes me think that there could be a simple and innocent explanation for this whole thing is that Rogers isn't stupid. At least I don't think he's dumb enough to get caught with pine tar on his hand when he knows the close-up, HD cameras of the national TV guys are examining every little detail of the game. Could anyone be stupid enough to have an obvious glob of pine tar on his hand when pitching in the Fall Classic?

Then again, do I believe the explanation of it being a smudge of dirt and rosen that got wet? Nope. It could have been transferred to his pitching hand from somewhere else accidentally...right?

Either way...Bud Selig will have another Excedrin headache before this one's over.

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