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Big Cheating and Little Cheating

While Big Media has to at least feign impartiality as if It Still Needs To Make Its Mind Up, I don't suppose there are too many fans  this evening trying to make the case that the "dirt" on Kenny Rogers' hand was there by accident.

Right?  We're all agreed that it was pine tar, and that furthermore, Sunday night wasn't the first time Mr. Rogers had applied the stuff to the baseball?

OK, thought so.

I'm glad we got there, but that's the easy part, really.  The tricky business for me is, where do you go from there?  As much as I have railed and shrieked in this space about the blackguards who disgrace the sport with their steroid use, I have never really held a similar position on those pitchers who've doctored the baseball.

Maybe it's just me being hypocritical, but I saw a clear distinction between Jason Giambi's shooting himself in the ass with Deca-Durobolin while sequestered in a bathroom deep in the catacombs of the Oakland Colisseum, and Joe Niekro trying to scuff the ball with a hidden nail file live on cable TV.

First off, Niekro had a much bigger chance of getting caught, but never mind that.  I guess the difference is that with the scuffers, with the doctorers, it's all on the field, all in plain view (at least if you're looking in the right place).  Whereas the steroid abusers are committing most of their malfeasances in the offseason, within the safe comforts of their own home.

Sure, Gaylord Perry should have been thrown out of any game where he was caught expectorating upon the horsehide.  Absolutely.  But damn, in a sport where some of the biggest praise you can give is that a pitcher has a "deceptive delivery," or is possessed of a slider that "disappears," isn't it at least a little bit admirable that he was able to get away with it?

I'll readily admit that such an attitude made it a little bit easier for me to ignore all those rumors about Mike Scott.

Maybe he scuffed, OK, whatever, you know?

And my sympathies would be with Rogers, too.  A little pine tar to help you snap off the curveball--what's so bad about that on a cold night?  

Except that it's beginning to look like he's been using the stuff all year long, even on those frigid nights back in Mid-July.  And that, well, he did something pretty fucking reprehensible last year, the whole GBH thing on the cameraman and his equipment, for no real good reason, either.

I guess I can still say that Mike Scott never beat up no camera dude, but given the possible flaws in Mr. Rogers' character that showed up last year, and then may have done so again last night, I might be just a little less flippant the next time a Giant fan wants to razz me about ol' Mike Scuff. . . .

*   *

Another thing that's bugging me this eve, is this talk about how LaRussa measured his response to what Vizcaino and others were telling him about what the Fox cameras were showing based on his friendship with Leyland.  

I find that real hard to believe, but if so, let's just skip the bullshit and have La Genius fired right now.  

How in the hell could you sit on something like that, knowing that it might could make the difference between a loss for your team and a win? It doesn't matter whether Rogers wiped the pine tar off or whether he pitched seven scoreless after that, it was La Russa's responsiblity to try and get Rogers tossed.  Even if Rogers wasn't cheating, he had given La Russa a pretext.  Nothing's saying the the umpires had to buy La Russa's spiel, but he was honor-bound to at least give it.  That's why the Cardinals pay him what they do:  for his ability to try and win ballgames for the Cardinals.

And ain't no-one gonna convince me that the Tigers without Rogers would have as good a chance to beat the Cards as the Tigers with him.

But again, I can't believe that La Russa would consciously choose not to maker those arguments simply out of deference to a guy they say is his friend.  There's something else going on, and maybe it's like I heard suggested today, that 75% of the pitchers today are using pine tar or some such similar substance, and La Russa didn't want to instigate a pissing war when he knew his guys were guilty as well.

Something like that certainly makes more sense to me than the idea that La Russa would forego a chance at a World Series' championship just because he'd done a few shots with the guy in the opposing dugout. . . .