Tue, Oct 24, 2006 - Page 20 News List

Let's keep our eyes on the ball, shall we?

By Emily Shih  /  STAFF REPORTER

I sometimes have a hard time watching baseball here.

The problem is the Chinese broadcast. For one thing, it is made over the US broadcast, which is extremely distracting. For another, my Chinese isn't spectacular, and I also find the announcer's habit of yelling "Hasta la vista, baby!" after every home run to be ... well, let's just say it has lost its novelty. I often turn the sound down or mute it altogether, which is how I completely missed the Kenny Rogers scandal in Game 2.

Unaware of what ESPN is now calling "Dirtgate," I found Game 2 to be rather dull. Like Game 1, it offered a showcase of excellent pitching; unlike Game 1, there was little offense. Jeff Weaver worked himself out of a few big jams and Rogers was simply lights-out, but other than that, there was little to see.

Except, it appears, for that smudge of alleged dirt on Rogers' hand.

I had hoped, for a moment, that all of the drama in this series might occur strictly on the field and be confined to great catches and clutch home runs. After Game 1, that seemed not only possible, but probable. These are not melodramatic teams. Post-game comments from both teams have been classy and respectful. They have given credit where credit is due. The two managers are old and dear friends. Even in this situation, Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa refused to discuss the situation with the media, presumably because he did not want to appear as though he were taking credit away from Jim Leyland's team, but that is not going to stop the media from talking.

Such an under-anticipated World Series needs a little outside scandal, and who better to place at the root of that scandal than Kenny "Cameraman-Puncher" Rogers?

If the dirt was, in fact, pine tar or some other illegal substance, I fail to see what difference it makes. Yes, technically, it would make Rogers a cheater. But it was there for one inning. Rogers shut the Cardinals down for seven more after that, and I'm pretty sure the mystery substance did not play a role in Craig Monroe's homer, or any of the other runs scored by the Tigers. They played the better ball game and they won.

The last two World Series have been all about breaking curses and 90-plus-year droughts. If this one turns out to be about the inside of Kenny Rogers' palm, it will be shame.

Eyes on the field, everyone. Or is that too much to ask?

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