Off Base
Smudge-Gate? Get a Grip

October 24 , 2006

Kenny Rogers, baseball cheat. Don’t be shy. That’s what you think, right?

In the face of so much evidence, including actual tape recordings and everything, Rogers simply must be cheating. There’s a DNA-stained blue jersey hanging around in some poor intern’s locker, correct? All that’s missing is a finger pointing denial from the man himself. Let’s not parse words here. That’s exactly what you’re thinking.

Look, I don’t know what Rogers’ wife looks like, or what her position on conspiracy theories might be, or whether or not she bakes cookies, but the old man’s not cheating. It’s a non-issue, a non-starter if you will. And this isn’t hockey, OK. Absent an in-game protest of some kind, and a player’s ejection from the contest, it’s a done deal.

What, you’re tell me, a baseball player, who stunk up a previous postseason or two, all of sudden, out of the clear blue sky, performs to the best of his ability, carrying his team to victory on the grand stage? What, you mean, a surprise in October baseball?! What next, a second place team, just barely above .500, in the World Series?!! The World Series??!!!

Wait. Hold a minute, please. Now you expect me to believe that baseball managed a collective bargaining agreement without a work stoppage. Sans posturing, with zero grandstanding, and without a single appearance from Bud Selig, Donald Fehr, George Mitchell, Fay Vincent, Jesse Jackson or the National Labor Relations Board? No bleeping way! Now, I know there’s a conspiracy a foot.

Surely Smudge-Gate is a confabulation of fair and balanced reporting, about Fox Sports and red state Missouri vs. blue state Michigan.

Oh my God, dirt?! Actual dirt, brown matter, on a baseball field?! Send in the Feds!! Bleep, has Rogers’ car been secured yet? Send a batboy to check under the hood, stat!! 10’ll get you 20, there’s grease on that engine!!!

Archie Bunker once said this about that: “I am not paranoid, and why is everyone against me?!” Let’s move on...

A Distinction: The difference between Kenny Rogers’ possibly placing an illegal substance on a baseball, and Barry Bonds’ putting an illegal substance into his body, is this: Say, for the sake of discussion, both are true. Rogers is cheating in a baseball game. Bonds is cheating the game of baseball

World Series Records vs. Postseason Records: Not one and the same. Not by a long-called-shot. Kenny Rogers’ streak of 24 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings during a postseason career is a laudatory accomplishment, but it’s not simply 2 2/3 innings from being in the same class as Christy Mathewson. Please.

Matty tossed three shutouts in five days of October, 1905, the third of which ended a World Series. Rogers’ streak includes his performing for two teams, in two division series, over four years.

John Smoltz’ record 15 postseasons win is an impressive, wonderful, perhaps Hall of Fame-worthy achievement, and one of my favorites, but it’s not as important as Whitey Ford’s 10 Series victories. It’s just not. And Ford’s 94 Series strikeouts is a more significant record than Smoltz’ postseason total, of exactly 100 more. does a great thing, listing World Series and postseason leaders, side by side. They’re identical in some cases. Like say, did you know, that in over a hundred years of postseason history, 1973 Athletics reliever Darold Knowles is the only man to pitch in seven games in one series of any kind? (If you happen to know the origin of the name, Darold, or whether it was just a typo that stuck, you’re one up on me).

Mathewson’s 27 innings pitched in 1905, and again in 1911, along with Bob Gibson’s 27 innings pitched in ’64, ’67 and ’68, and Mickey Lolich’s 27 in ’68 are only enough to rank them seventh in World Series history, along with seven other guys. Deacon Phillippe pitched 44 innings in five complete games in the 1903 debut of America’s greatest sporting event (the Super Bowl is an out-of-view distant second), and nobody’s matched it yet.

Barry Bonds, unfortunately and depending on which minimum of plate appearances or total World Series appearances you reference, holds four Series records. Bonds’ lifetime slugging percentage of 1.294 was recorded in his 31 plate appearances of 2002, for example, leads second place Reggie Jackson’s .755, recorded in 116 PAs spanning five Series.

Most mind-boggling of all is the idea that Jim Thome (Jim Thome!) can tie Mickey Mantle’s 18 postseason homers with his next one, and that Bernie Williams already has four more…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Tidbits of Tigers, Cardinals World Series Trivia: The most runs scored by a player in a World Series inning is two, by seven men, including Al Kaline, in 1968, in the third inning of Game Six, and Dick McAuliffe, in 1968, in the third inning of Game Six.

Lou Brock holds the Series record for most hits in consecutive series, with 25 in 1967 and 1968. Dal Maxvill holds the record for 22 hitless at bats in a single World Series, also in 1968.

The highest career Series batting average, with a minimum of 20 games played (eat your heart out, Barry Bonds), is Lou Brock’s .391. The highest seven-game Series average is Pepper Martin’s .500, in 1931.

18 players share the record for most hits in a World Series inning, two, including Kaline and Norm Cash, and of all people, Dizzy Dean.

The record for the most career World Series homers by a pitcher, is shared by Dave McNally and Bob Gibson, with two...

Glove Talk: If Greg Maddux wins a Gold Glove Award for his fielding excellence in 2006, it’ll be his 16th, tying Jim Kaat for the most ever by a pitcher. Kaat won 14 straight as an American Leaguer, from 1962 to 1975, plus two more after changing leagues in 1976. If not for Mike Hampton’s snagging that one trophy in 2003, Maddux would be looking at 17 in a row this time around. That’s one better than Brooks Robinson...

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….








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