Monday, October 23, 2006
out of gas, out of road, out of car, I don't know how I'm gonna go:
My friend Tim, the New Peter Gammons, has a great, great column in today's New York Sun about the alleged rebirth of Kenny Rogers. Rogers may be turning into the pitcher he spent the last 15 years telling us he was, but a little perspective is in order. It's not that Rogers hasn't been shockingly good this postseason -- Marchman actually compares him to Whitey Ford -- but keep in mind, a) "this postseason has featured the least impressive great pitching I can recall"; and b) with the exception of the Yankees, he faced/is facing A's and Cards offenses that have been underperforming for months now.

I can't find it in my heart to love the cameraman-smacking Kenny, but he's been really great, as everyone knows, this October. Yet, damn it, it's time to ask the question: after the Jason Grimsley revelations, is it not possible that Rogers' very-late-career rennaisance is fueled by steroids or HGH? I welcome the stat-heads who'll say that maybe Rogers isn't really overperforming this last month relative to his starts this season or last or whenever, but the man is a) about to turn 42 and b) is a famous, famous choker
. Color me skeptical.
--Spencer Ackerman
Well, the whole pine tar debate adds another fun parallel to the Whitey Ford discussion.
Blogger fulsome | 11:26 AM

Took the words right out of my mouth. It's probably not fair to suspect every over-performing, unnaturally injury-free middle-aged pitcher of steroid abuse. But when you factor in the aggressive and erratic behavior, it would be, as Noonan would say, irresponsible not to speculate (see also Clemens, Roger).
Blogger kth | 12:17 PM

it would be one thing if kenny rogers were simply blowing it by people, but he isn't. the man has had stretches of effective pitching throughout his career, and as we all know, good pitching is changing speeds and location, which is kenny rogers' approach.

that all said, i expect the cards to hammer him his next start....
Blogger howard | 1:20 PM

Nope, he's just been a) lucky and b) good. What has distinguished his pitching performances? Guile and location. Sure, he has a few strikeouts, but they're not on 100-mph chest-high fastballs.

A substantially more convincing theory is relayed by Baseball Prospectus at -- that Rogers is scuffing. Having watched "Mike Scuff" (nee Scott) in his prime, I find this argument substantially less impossible.

Then again, as a longtime Giants fan, I have a deep, deep sympathy for the Gaylord-Perry pitching method. Perry pitched into his forties, too, throwing 200 above-average innings at 41 and 190 below-average ones at 44.

If you must accuse, be smart about. Rogers is scuffing!
Blogger Wcw | 2:52 PM

Hey Spencer--Like the new blog.

I think that you're on to something here. Sure, it's possible that Rogers is scuffing the ball, or using an illegal substance to doctor the ball. But one has to be not paying attention to notice the number of pitchers in their early or even mid-forties still pitching at the big league level. (I'm looking at you, Rocket.) In the old, pre-pharmaceutical days, pitchers used to lose their ability to throw in the big leagues sometime in their mid-thirties. The arm can only take so much, and as a mid-thirties athlete myself (six marathons, beeyatch), I'll tell you that the body just doesn't recover so quickly anymore. Injuries nag. That's why an old arm, pitching 200 innings, gets hurt, and then, well, is never the same again . . . .

But, if you're on HGH, well, the body (the arm) recovers quicker, maybe fully. It's like being a growing child. One can take a lot more abuse. It's not strength so much as it's resilience and recovery time. (I've read that HGH will actually cause some old scars to actually heal. It's potent medicine)

So it's not the speed of Rogers's pitches to watch, it's that he's managed, arguably for the first time in his long career, to pitch decently into October. That is suspicious. And I'm a Tigers fan.
Blogger Number Three | 4:02 PM


I have one name for you, beeyatch: Hoy Freaking Wilhelm, Phil Freaking Niekro and Satchel Freaking Paige. Ok, ok, that's three names, but c'mon. Wilhelm pitched 80 above-average innings at age 47, Niekro 200 above-average innings at 45 and Paige 120 above-average innings at age 46. Then he added three (3) 0.00-ERA innings at age 58. And nobody actually knows his birth date -- he might have been sixty, though he probably wasn't.

Eat that, Julio Franco.
Blogger Wcw | 5:50 PM

Wilhelm and Niekro were knuckleballers. Don't knuckleballers put a lot less strain on their arms?
Blogger g odoreida | 6:02 PM

Yeah, and Paige's "hesitation pitch" is against the rules now.

Quod erat demonstrandum, dude.
Blogger Wcw | 7:02 PM