Thursday, July 21, 2005

Rogers deserves what he got

Kenny Rogers
what he got

By SPC. IAN BOUDREAU/Turret Sports Editor

Kenny Rogers seems intent on remaining in the Danger Zone.

No, wait -- not him. That's Kenny Loggins. I mean the guy who has it out for TV cameramen.

The whole story, with which readers are no doubt familiar, started June 29, when Rogers took it upon himself to channel the spirit of Ron Artest (with maybe a little inspiration from Randy Johnson) and "lash out" at two cameramen who were trying to get some footage of pre-game stretching.

The footage has been playing on sports television ever since -- and it's clear to anyone that Rogers was in the wrong. He tore the camera off of KDFW cameraman Larry Rodriguez, throwing it to the ground.

The photographer wound up in the hospital, and Rogers eventually wound up getting booked into the county jail.

I'm well aware there are Rogers apologists out there; people who want to make sure everyone understands all the factors that went into what he did, who want us all to know he's not only the Rangers' best pitcher and a 16-year Major League veteran (he pitched the league's seventh perfect game), but also a great guy. He just "shuns publicity" and wants to "play the game."

I almost bought that version of the story when I watched Rogers' emotional apology after the fact. He seemed deeply troubled by what he'd done, and I figured maybe he was just a serious baseball player with a short fuse. That's certainly nothing new.

But that theory came crashing down this week when Rogers showed up to appeal the 20-game, $50,000 penalty that MLB Commissioner Bud Selig slapped him with.

According to an Associated Press' MLB wire story released Monday, while Rogers was being booked in the county jail on misdemeanor assault charges, he turned on cameraman Mike Zukerman from Dallas-Fort Worth station WFAA, saying, "You're getting pretty close, you know that? You hear me?"

Rogers may or may not have been implying that Zukerman would have done well to remember that the pitcher had put another cameraman in the hospital only a few weeks before.

The AP story has it that when Zukerman said, "It's just my job, Kenny," Rogers retorted with "Yeah. Your job. That's just your excuse."

Maybe it's true that Rogers just hates publicity. But doesn't it seem strange that anyone involved in professional sports for 16 years -- particularly a starting Major League pitcher -- could think that he could completely avoid television cameras? Shouldn't Rogers know by now that publicity is part and parcel with being a key player on a professional team?

And seriously, picking a cameraman to take out pent-up aggression on seems slightly unhinged to me. I'm sure Rogers is familiar with how those things work n they take moving pictures of what's going on in front of them, including rage-filled tirades from angry players, and put them on videotape.

Whether those tapes show up on Sports Center or in a courtroom, it's a pretty bad way to "shun publicity." Regardless of the penalty assessed by law enforcement or the league, Rogers has thrust himself into the public spotlight, not by playing the game, but by breaking the rules.

Shouldn't he know better by now?