Jayson Stark’s found a controversy that could rival steroids!

October 23rd, 2006 → 10:14 am @ // 3 Comments

The lead story on ESPN.com’s baseball homepage is a Jayson Stark piece titled “Rogers’ dirty hand overshadows his Game 2 brilliance“. After writing that the controversy surrounding what appeared to be some dirt on Kenny Rogers’s hand in the first inning of last night’s game would overshadow the game itself, Stark puts a new spin on the innocent until found guilty thing: “[I]f Rogers was so darned innocent, how come he was trying so hard to deny everything except his pitch count?” That makes sense. Rogers is guilty because he said he was innocent; try figuring out what that would mean if he said he was guilty of using pine tar. The piece ends with this weighty pronouncement: “See, it wasn’t just his pitching hand that Rogers soiled on Sunday night. It was, regrettably, his whole sport. And that’s a stain that will take a lot longer to wash off.”

Wow. This must be all the talk of baseball. Look at what the St. Louis Post Dispatch had to say: “‘Somebody said they saw pine tar on it. That’s about it. He obviously got rid of it or he never had it in the first place,’ said [Cardinals] second baseman Aaron Miles. ‘The stuff looked about the same as it did at the beginning. I’m not sure what difference it made.'”

“Had the umpiring crew discovered pine tar or some other intentionally applied foreign substance, they could have ejected Rogers from the game. Intentionally applying dirt to the ball is also grounds for ejection. Major League Baseball director of umpires Steve Palermo said ‘there was not an inspection, there was an observation.’

Palermo referred to ‘a noticeable dirt mark’ but said it in no way met the definition of ‘deliberately doctoring the ball in some regard.'”

Huh. Okay, well how about the Detroit Free Press:

“‘It was wet out there tonight, so you get a compound of water and dirt, and it’s going to create a little bit of mud,'” Palermo said. “‘And Kenny may have had that spot on his hand or whatever it was when he left the bullpen.'”

They’re the hometown boosters, so that’s to be expected. What about over at MLB.com?

“‘Kenny,'” [home plate umpire Alfonso] Marquez told the pitcher, “‘also that dirt thing that you’ve got on your hand, if you’ll do me a favor and just take it off.'”

“After the game, La Russa said, “‘It’s not important. I wouldn’t discuss that about someone who pitched like that. I wouldn’t want to take anything away from anybody.'”

So you’ve got Cardinals players, the Cardinals manager, the home plate umpire, and the umpiring supervisor all saying it was no big deal. And you have Jayson Stark, who feels that because Rogers is “a pitcher who, a mere three weeks ago, was carrying around the highest career postseason ERA in the history of baseball” and goes on to “spin off his 23rd consecutive scoreless October inning, you want to tell the world how he finally rewrote the script of his lifetime. But we’re having trouble with that angle, too.” The Gambler also has thrown a perfect game, has been in the league’s top ten in wins six times, and has the ninth most wins among active pitchers. Compare that to, say, Don Larsen, who threw the only perfect game in postseason history in the 1956 World Series against the Roy Campanella, Gil Hodges, Pee Wee Reese, Duke Snider, Jackie Robinson Brooklyn Dodgers. Larsen finished his career with an ERA above the league average and a career record of 81-91. Must of been the pine tar.

I’m sure Rogers’s “caramel covered mark” will continue to be discussed and analyzed — especially after ESPN analysis showed that Rogers appeared to have similar discolorations on his pitching hand during his two previous postseason starts. And Rogers certainly doesn’t have a the best reputation. But Stark’s presumed guilt piece is going a bit overboard, and is in marked contrast to his colleagues Buster Olney (who focuses on the ever-fiesty Tony LaRussa’s apparent wimpiness vis a vis Rogers), Keith Law (who doesn’t talk about Dirtgate at all), and Gene Wojciechowski (who focuses on the fact that the controversy will continue…at least until a possible Game 6, when Rogers is would pitch again). Finally, the Globe’s Gordon Edes — day in and day out, one of the best baseball guys out there — has a more clear-headed take on the whole thing: “Kenny Rogers, who has been master of any neighborhood he has occupied this October and showed no letup last night…evidently didn’t resort to anything underhanded in pitching the Detroit Tigers to a 3-1 win last night that evened the 102d World Series at a game apiece. To suggest otherwise would besmirch a reputation that has undergone a major renovation this postseason, one in which Rogers’s performance is approaching historic levels. And last night’s umpires did not take it upon themselves to do so, electing not to make an issue out of it, although the rules stipulate that any pitcher detected with an illegal substance on his person is subject to automatic ejection. And neither would opposing manager Tony La Russa.”

That sounds about right to me. Is whatever’s going on with the man putting together an historic postseason run worth investigating more? Of course. But at the moment, it’s a bit much — a lot much, actually — to say that the whole sport is soiled and this stain will take a lot of time for baseball to wash off.


Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & Gordon Edes & Jayson Stark & Kenny Rogers & Sports Reporters

3 Comments → “Jayson Stark’s found a controversy that could rival steroids!”


  1. iokyouok

    11 years ago

    What kind of cheater is so stupid as to walk out there with big old smear on his hand? Honestly, it looked like he got impatient in the clubhouse restroom. How embarrassing.

    Here’s an angle I don’t buy: Stark is a Yankees fan, if I’m not mistaken. Maybe he’s looking for some way to explain how Rogers shut down the World’s Greatest Offense in the ALDS. It couldn’t have been, you know, pitching.

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  2. Beth

    11 years ago

    i think cardinals fans, sensing they’re about to be knocked out of yet another postseason, are preparing their rationalizations now. sort of like some yankees fans and people in baltimore made noises about the bloody sock being faked. in our cynical age, no one wants to believe in plain old miracles anymore.

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  3. […] There definitely are reporters that seem to have a questionable relationship with reality, just as there are those reporters who appear to use their columns to grind their assorted axes — I’ve been railing on Murray Chass for both of these sins for some time now. There are also those situations, and they seem to occur more frequently in the sports pages, where accountability is lacking. (Anyone remember when Jayson Stark said the Kenny Rodgers-Dirtgate controversy would rival steroids?) […]

    Reply

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