By David Shaw

First to be clear, Kenny Rogers and the Detroit Tigers earned every bit of the win they took at home against St. Louis in Game 2 of the World Series. That might be the only concrete data to come out of baseball today as once again the tenuous relationship between baseball and its extensive set of rules is front and center during what should be baseball’s greatest week.

No matter what the smudge was on Kenny Roger’s hand, it demonstrates the fact that so many of baseball’s rules that are written as absolutes are treated as anything but on the field of play. When a second baseman comes across to tag second on a double play, having a foot anywhere in a 2 foot radius of the bag is considered touching the bag. At first base, if a first baseman’s foot is at least close to touching the bag, that too is considered contact.

For pitchers, what they can do to a ball in cold weather is akin to those two distortions of the rule book. Pitchers rub, blow on, coat in dirt and otherwise do all they can to get a better grip on the baseball. Surfacing today have been reports on ESPN Radio, in the course of this article from Yahoo sports and from other outlets detailing other pitchers that have come forward to say that they indeed put some kind of tactile substance on their hand to get a grip on the baseball.

Strictly speaking, these actions are all illegal in the course of a baseball game and bigger than Kenny Rogers or the Detroit Tigers or even this year’s World Series is the need for baseball to once and for all describe what is and what isn’t allowed. If swiping your foot somewhere near second is akin to tagging the bag, say so. If having pine tar smeared on a hand is permissible, let that stand too.

Hot off of the news that a new labor agreement is all but agreed to, baseball can go the extra needed step, sometimes a difficult thing for the sport to do, and put an end to all of these kinds of controversies. Clean up the game and please, someone, clean off Kenny’s hand.

David Shaw writes for the Blogger News Network and can be reached at thatdamndave@gmail.com.

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