It's freezing in St Louis. My cameraman Rich Delia and I are sitting in the family pavilion beyond center field in an empty Busch Stadium, waiting for our first live shot of the day. A light rain is falling, and a tarp covers the infield. Tonight's game could get called, but tomorrow night's game is even more in doubt, with thunderstorms in the forecast.
Maybe they should play the World Series in September. Did I mention it's freezing cold out here? It's 43 degrees at 1:30 pm. I asked one of the security guards if he thought tonight's game would be rained out, and he said "I think we'll see snow first!"
The World Series is always a good chance to meet celebrities, usually on the field during batting practice. Before Game 3, the biggest star in the house was actor Billy Bob Thornton. He told me he'd been a Cardinal fan since he was a kid, and remembered 1968 as one of the worst years of his life. That was the last time the Cardinals faced the Tigers in the fall classic. Detroit trailed 3 games to 1, then came back to win it all in Game 7. Thornton said he had business in L.A. Thursday, but might try to stick around if the Cards have a chance to sweep at home.
I also saw Steve Palermo on the field, talking to Tony LaRussa and Jim Leyland. The two managers are close friends, and Palermo is in charge of the umpires. Palermo wouldn't say what they were discussing, but it most likely included pine tar and Kenny Rogers. Rogers is the Tiger pitcher suspected of using the sticky stuff to help grip the ball during Game 2. I asked Palermo if there was an "old boy network" at work, a wink and a nod allowing Rogers to towel the stuff off and keep pitching. Palermo bristled. "There's a fine line between professionalism and gamesmanship" he told me, "and this has been handled professionally."
Many Cardinal fans disagree, saying Rogers should've been more closely inspected and tossed if he had pine tar on his hand. My cameraman Rich isn't so sure.
"Cheating is an art form in baseball" he said. Rich has been a fan since he was five years old, and can recite stats at the drop of his Yankee hat.
"What about when shortstops and second basemen turn double plays? They don't always touch the bag. Is that cheating?"
"Hitters put their back foot outside the batter's box. That's illegal, but they get away with it! And first basemen take their foot off the bag early to get the call on close plays. What about that? And how about stealing signs?"
Players always look for a edge. Rich thinks it's a part of the game, and what Rogers is accused of doing is no worse than what many others have done before him, which may be why LaRussa didn't make a big deal out of it.
Rick Leventhal has been a New York-based correspondent with FOX News Channel (FNC) since June 1997. You can read his bio here.