Balls for Brains

Kenny Rogers has a history of sneak assaults

But, yeah. Rogers, a professional pitcher, threw a ball at or toward a photographer who wasn't watching him.

I've never covered sports, but I have covered a lot of crime in my life, and I'm telling you: I think I smell something familiar here. This isn't immaturity. An immature guy with anger management issues runs straight at the person he's mad at and roars and waves his arms and maybe pops him in the head. This is a bad guy. Bad guys are never up for a fair fight in the first place. That's why they call it crime.

Rogers attacked two photographers that day at the ballpark. According to an Associated Press story, Rogers also shoved David Mammeli of Fox Sports Net Southwest, telling him, "I told you to get those cameras out of my face." Mammeli told me ruefully he couldn't comment on the matter at all. He didn't mention this, but Fox Sports has an exclusive cable contract with the ball team, which they probably don't want to endanger.

"Hey, that's Kenny Rogers," KDFW cameraman Larry Rodriguez thought when Rogers suddenly appeared in his viewfinder. Then Rogers punked him.
Mark Graham
"Hey, that's Kenny Rogers," KDFW cameraman Larry Rodriguez thought when Rogers suddenly appeared in his viewfinder. Then Rogers punked him.

The criminal defense lawyers I spoke with agreed that the two attacks almost certainly constitute two different crimes. Peter Lesser, who doesn't represent anyone in this case, said the attack on Mammeli probably would be charged as a Class C misdemeanor--a ticket in the mail, basically--because no injury was involved.

The attack on Rodriguez--though probably not a felony because no weapon was used--could be treated as falling in a range of more serious misdemeanors that involve bodily injury, Lesser said. "If you hit somebody and you cause pain, any type of bodily injury, a black and blue mark, that's bodily injury."

David Finn, a former family court judge, also not involved in this case, said the attack probably would not rise to the level of a felony. "For a felony, you would need to have serious bodily injury or a deadly weapon."

But Finn said it wasn't his impression that juries will wink at this. "People are tired of hot-headed people injuring other people," he said.

Christy Gilfour, spokeswoman for the Arlington Police Department, explained to me in some detail the steps the Arlington PD is going through to decide what if any charges to press in this case. It does seem as if a lot of time has passed--going on a couple of weeks since the incident--but it also sounds as if they're going at this the right way. They're waiting for things like raw videotape to be released by other TV stations whose cameras recorded it.

Rodriguez told me he still needed to go in and sign a sworn statement. It makes sense for Arlington to make sure it has all of its ducks in a row, especially since Rogers will be able to come back at them with a lot of high-priced legal talent.

I tried unsuccessfully to reach the Rangers. They never even called back. They don't talk to media they don't like. What a hillbilly outfit.

I watched Rogers' apology on television in which he said, "The incident was completely out of character." And, of course, the first thing I thought was, "No, punk, the very important fact here is that the incident was completely in your character." That he fails to recognize this important but simple fact is, for me, proof that the apology, however sincere, was empty. He has no idea what's wrong.

He also said, for example, that he had failed to control his emotions that day. I disagree. I think he had splendid control, especially when he was doing that little sidestep sneak on Rodriguez. At least when he's out to punk somebody, the man moves like a hunter.

Maybe you're wondering what Rogers' real motive was. I'm actually not. A career of reporting on and writing books about crime has caused me to lose interest in the motives of criminals. Most of them have too many short circuits in their heads to be capable of coherent motives. If they had motives, they wouldn't be criminals.

All I know is that this guy needs to be tried for what he did. It wasn't minor. It wasn't a goof. He's not a little kid who lost control. From what I saw on the tapes, he's a grown-up bastard who likes to hurt people. I know that type. Cops know that type.

Next time Kenny Rogers pitched a game after the attacks, the fans cheered him, according to the reports I saw. So we're a debased society, and sports and entertainment are all a big amoral video game. So what else is new?

Put the punk on trial.

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