Pissing Off the Baseball Gods Vol. VII: Kenny Rogers vs. the 2006 Postseason

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January 18, 2014 by NowhereButPop

by Andrew Doscas

Baseball is an incredibly superstitious sport; from players such as Wade Boggs and Justin Verlander, and instances like a black cat walking across Ron Santo in the one deck circle, it’s a sport that is steeped in superstition as much as it is rooted in tradition.  The reason for such is that much the same way that the course of the NBA is dictated by David Stern, the MLB is governed by the baseball gods.  They are the committee that controls the flow of the game and the outcome of events.  Like the gods of ancient mythology however, they are not infallible and from time to time have been stymied by the actions of a certain player or team.  As such, there comes a price for crossing the gods and their plans for baseball.

Pissing Off the Baseball Gods: is a 30 part anthology wherein I will go through each of the 30 franchises in the MLB and give an example of how they crossed the baseball gods, and give the ensuing penalty that arose from their transgression.  Essentially, a gigantic dose of karma, each team has had to pay for a victory they shouldn’t have had, or having unfavorable players on their team.  Most of the examples provided may seem disassociated and incongruent, but given the superstitious nature of baseball, chances are it’s just the price to pay for pissing off the baseball gods.

The baseball gods hate cheaters, plain and simple.  That’s why guys like Bonds, Sosa, McGwire, and Clemens aren’t in the hall of fame, it’s why the Black Sox are more reviled than any other team in the history of the MLB, and it’s the reason why Alex Rodriguez was allowed to be suspended for an entire season.  The gods hate cheaters and anyone else who would sully the integrity of the game.  As far as we know, Kenny Rogers never took any PEDs, nor did he ever bet on baseball.  What he did though was scoff the ball during the 2006 postseason as his Detroit Tigers were on their way to a World Series appearance.

What makes Rogers’ usage of mucking the ball up so heinous is that it wasn’t used sparingly or by a pitcher who didn’t even have to do anything to tamper with the ball; it’s that Kenny Rogers was a mediocre pitcher to begin with, who dominated the game completely and solely through artificial means.  There’s no logical explanation for how a 41 year old pitcher, with a career 4.27 ERA could somehow throw 23 innings of scoreless baseball while striking out 19 batters.

Prior to his 2006 miracle, Rogers was notoriously known (at least in New York) as a pitcher who couldn’t handle the pressures of October.  With the Yankees in 1996, he singlehandedly almost lost the World Series for them, and in 1999 with the Mets, he did lose the pennant after walking Andruw Jones in extra innings in game six to seal a Braves victory.  But all of the sudden at 41 years old, this guy is gonna somehow throw the best baseball of his entire career against the best hitters in the league?  Something doesn’t quite make sense here.

Sure enough FOX cameras picked up some sort of residue on Rogers’ pitching hand during the World Series.  Even though the MLB found nothing conclusive to throw him out of the game, subsequent recordings of his previous games in the ALCS and ALDS also confirm an odd residue on his pitching hand.  On top of his otherworldly dominance and mysterious substances on his hands, batters who faced him also reported that they had seen a smoky black trail following the pitch, which made it hard to follow the ball.  Shocking to say the least.

Aware that a transgression to the integrity of the game was in process, the gods decided that for his crime and arrogance they would see his team fail on the biggest stage to the lowliest of opponents.  Even though the Tigers were the wild card team, they had won 95 games, while the Cardinals won only 83.  To this day the Cardinals remain the team with worst winning percentage to win the World Series.  Not only is losing the World Series a tragedy in itself, but to be compounded with the indignity of losing to the statistically worst team in the history of the World Series is the biggest insult imaginable.  Even though they lost in five games to the Cardinals, the lone Tigers victory in the 2006 World Series was by Kenny Rogers, ironically enough.  His cheating ways, however would not be enough to stem the just vindication of the baseball gods.

Next Week: Chicago White Sox

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