Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Final thoughts on the Gambler and "Dirtgate"

In regard to all the Cards fans going off on Kenny Rogers, and if you check out Cards blogs and boards, their fans are at a hysterical level of fever pitch, they have their own glass house when it comes to their turning a blind eye to Mark McGuire. If Rogers is guilty as sin because of circumstancial evidence, (It's nothing more than that, as no one ever physically checked out Rogers hand. Todd Jones said it could have been chocolate cake...) then so is McGuire. Hey, it was only the Creatine, right? You can't prove a thing in either case.

Once Rogers washed his hands, the evidence was washed away.

Anyway, at that level, no one is innocent. They all cheat and bend the rules one way or another. That's why Tony LaRussa would have opened a huge can of worms if he went for the jugular on Sunday. Jim Leyland was a scout/advisor with the Cards for several years before he took the Tigers gig. The Marlboro Man knows exactly who's doing what on the Cards. You'd have to believe that he knows of more than a few skeletons in the closet of the Cards roster, including the pitching staff.

You don't think Leyland would judiciously pick his spot when he (And he definitely would have) retaliated? Say when one of the Cards big guns is on the mound? Maybe in a game 7? Once McCarver and FOX left him no choice by making the "Dirt" their storyline, LaRussa took the only way out he could, by making just a mild protest.

Let's say that Rogers was ejected. There would have been the CRACKDOWN of crackdowns, every pitcher in the World Series would have gone under the microscope. If there was such a crackdown on "Dirt," then that affects the Cards pitchers who use "Dirt" just as much as the Tigers. I doubt that would have gone over very well in the Cardinals' clubhouse. Considering all the Scott Rolen/LaRussa drama, it sounds like their clubhouse hasn't been a very harmonious place to begin with.

If you want the pitchers to be clean, then while you're at it, have 'em check every single bat for cork. How about enforcing a consistent strike zone? Stop allowing the phantom tag of 2nd on the double play. Baseball has always treated the rule book with a wink and a nod. The spotlight of the World Series was no place to suddenly enforce something that is all but ignored otherwise.

Dan Shanoff, who's blog has become a daily must read, rightly says that this whole issue has come back to bite LaRussa on the ass. He was dammed either way...

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 Rogers in the 1st and maybe Rogers never would have even had the CHANCE to pitch innings 2 through 8.

It was not on Rogers to 'fess up to cheating (and, by the way, unlike LaRussa's flip-flop, Rogers still contends he didn't cheat -- and the umps' call that it was dirt still backs Rogers up, which really should be the ultimate word on Rogers' culpability).

It was squarely on LaRussa to challenge Rogers on it. So until he can provide a reasonable explanation for why -- if he believed it wasn't dirt -- he didn't challenge the pitcher, LaRussa is the bigger asshole in this story.

Thank God there's a game tonight, so we can stop chewing on, as the Marlboro Man put so bluntly put it, yesterday's breakfast. Even though the DORKS will continue to bludgeon us over the head with this media made controversy. I'm guessing the 2 teams have already moved on. They have bigger fish to fry.

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