Mr. Rogers' not-so-friendly neighborhood

July 16, 2005, midnight | By Abe Schwadron | 16 years, 6 months ago

Texas lefty not deserving of All-Star appearance

As he strolled in from the bullpen in the seventh inning of Major League Baseball's All-Star Game Tuesday in Detroit, Texas Rangers pitcher Kenny Rogers was showered with boos from baseball fans disgusted by Rogers' actions during an early July incident involving a group of on-field cameramen.

MLB Commissioner Bud Selig suspended Rogers for 20 games for his attack on the cameramen, who were shooting footage of the Rangers; pre-game warm-ups. The violent outburst sent one cameraman to the hospital and prompted a police investigation.

Rogers, who was selected as an All-Star by his fellow MLB players, has appealed the suspension, which would force him to miss at least four starts for the Rangers. The appeal process allows players to continue playing games with their team until their appeal is heard, letting Rogers put off his suspension until after the All-Star break.

Despite Rogers' taped tirade, the left-hander accepted his invitation to the MLB All-Star Game. Rogers' appearance at the festivities of All-Star weekend served as an embarrassment to Major League Baseball, as the taped scuffle was replayed over and over on Fox and ESPN, the networks broadcasting the weekend's All-Star festivities.

Instead of focusing on the inspiring, surprise teams like the Nationals, White Sox and Orioles, and future stars Derrek Lee, Albert Pujols, Mark Teixeira and Brian Roberts, the focus at baseball's midseason classic was on the despicable actions of a hot-headed, egotistical pitcher who viciously shoved innocent cameramen.

Though Rogers later apologized in a prepared statement, for almost a week following the confrontation he made no public statement or apology, leading many fans to rightfully declare Rogers selfish and undeserving of an All-Star appearance.

Rogers' outburst was not isolated, however. Just a day earlier, Rogers became furious when cameramen filmed inside the Rangers clubhouse, ordering them out.

Still, much of the blame for Rogers' appearance in Detroit this week can be placed on Selig, who failed to restrict Rogers from participating in the All-Star Game, despite public outcry. Selig chose to allow Rogers to pitch in the game, even with an ongoing police investigation.

Preventing Rogers, who is 10-4 with 50 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA, from participating in the All-Star Game may have been deemed detrimental to the American League team, as the game's winner gains home field advantage in the World Series (thus the slogan, "This One Counts"), but protecting the interests of contending American League teams should come second to disciplinary measures that are necessary to regulate Major League Baseball and the message sent to its fans.

Selig also hit Rogers with a $50,000 fine for his actions. However, baseball's suspensions are paid, meaning Rogers will continue to reap the rewards of a million-dollar salary while sitting out, rendering the fine meaningless. For a league skirting a steroid scandal and looking for positive stories and stars, Major League Baseball made a mistake by being so lenient with Rogers. Selig's indecision is another in a long line of bad choices, and the fact that Rogers easily avoided more severe punishment should not surprise the tuned-in baseball fan.

Perhaps poetic justice was served, however, as Rogers pitched just one inning in the game, and was lit up for three hits and gave up the first two National League runs on 14 pitches, including a home run blast by Andruw Jones, baseball's home-run leader at midseason.

Though Rogers was given the opportunity to participate in the All-Star Game, he should have realized the consequences of his actions for all of baseball, and declined the invitation in order to shift the focus from his clash with cameramen to the positive stories in the league.

Abe Schwadron. Abe is a huge basketball, baseball, and football fan that likes to read up on sports in SLAM, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN magazines. Hobbies include streetball, poker and film-making. A sneaker addict, Abe likes to keep his kicks fresh. Abe likes reggae and hip-hop music, … More »

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