ARTICLE OF THE DAY

Know When to Hold Them
Know When to Fold Them

by Brian North
7/13/05

What Kenny Rogers (the baseball pitcher not the country singer) did to a television camera man in Texas was inexcusable and deplorable.  Rogers was in a bad mood and asked a cameraman to quit doing his job in a public place.  He had no right to make the demand and was even more out of line with his actions that followed.  You've seen what happened next: Rogers went after the camera man and damaged the camera and made contact with the photographer.  Rogers has admitted to his mistake and apologized; he has been fined and suspended 20 games (Rogers is currently appealing the suspension), the second-longest suspension in major league history for a non-drug or gambling-related issue.

It seems like the public and the media have jumped on the anti-Rogers bandwagon.  Many wanted him to sit out last night's All-Star game as part of a self-imposed sentence.  But Major League Baseball said it was fine for Rogers to play, and he decided to attend the festivities and participate. Rogers was voted into the game by his peers, and he has had an exceptional first half with 10 wins.  Not bad for a 40-year-old.  I don't blame him for wanting to experience what might be the last shining moment of his career.

I might have more of a problem with Rogers if he were a repeat offender, a drug dealer, or a pedophile.  But Rogers was an exemplary citizen up until he short-circuited on the photographer.   He admitted to his mistake and will pay his penance.  So why should he give back an honor he has earned on the field?

Sometimes we in the public and the media get on a rant and lose sight of the forest through the trees.  Rogers is a human being who was having a bad day and made a mistake.  It's just that his temper tantrum was caught on film.  Most of us have bad days and do stupid things as a result, but ours are only witnessed by a few.  It's no excuse for bad behavior, but we are all human and make mistakes.  But how long should we be persecuted? Does the punishment fit the crime?

Rogers certainly will be sued (it's the American way), and his infamous camera swat will be the one thing he is remembered for.  To me that is punishment enough.  Just ask Juan Marichel.  The Hall of Fame pitcher did great things on the mound, but will always be remember for hitting John Rosboro with a bat during a bench-clearing brawl.  Kenny Rogers will pay for his transgression the rest of his life.  Now it's time to move on and be outraged by something else.

Brian North
bnorth@wcti12.com