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Cheating Bastards

February 17th, 2020 · No Comments · Baseball, Dodgers

I have been off the air most of this month, and have not weighed in on how the Houston Astros stole the 2017 World Series* from the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Though the headline and first paragraph can be considered a spoiler alert on where this is going. That, and the asterisk (forever) after any reference to the 2017 World Series*

The Astros won by systematically cheating — by stealing signs between pitcher and catcher during the 2017 World Series*, allowing their hitters to be clued in on what sort of offering was coming from the pitcher.

Why would they do that? Because they are Cheating Bastards and because they could get away with it. And because it made a difference.

It looked as if they might avoid detection, but the rocket scientists in the Assholes (uh, Astros) dugout did not take into account the possibility that a player on their roster, during the 2017 World Series*, might move to another team and, two years later, “out” them to a reporter at The Athletic — which is what pitcher Mike Fiers, now with the Oakland Athletics, did.

Clued in by Fiers’s description of signs being stolen and relayed, via banging on a trash can, Major League Baseball launched an investigation that, last month, ended with the Astros admitting to the charges. One of the club’s fans, went to the trouble of charting every trash-can bang, and posted his findings online. They support the reality that the Astros cheated.

MLB then suspended Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch for failing to rein in their players. They were promptly fired by Astros owner Jim Crane, who was shocked (shocked!) to learn that cheating could go on at his establishment. Crane has refused to accept any blame in the matter … even though he hired Luhnow and Hinch.

Astros players at first denied the accusations, but their stonewalling fell to pieces, leaving them to crawl into the light of day and beg for forgiveness for their brazen behavior — which probably rates as baseball’s greatest scandal in a century. (The Chicago “Black” Sox, who threw the 1919 World Series.)

And how do the Dodgers fit in? Because they were the National League’s representative (versus the Astros) in the 2017 World Series*, and victims of cheating at the highest level.

The Dodgers and Astros a very tight series. It went seven games and five of the first six games were decided by one run (Game 2 and Game 5) or two runs (Games 1, 3 and 6).

The Dodgers arrived in Arizona last week for the start of spring training, and for the first time reporters got a chance to talk to them and they are … oh, what’s a polite expression? — pissed off.

Many of them played in that 2017 World Series.

Collectively, they dismissed the half-hearted Astros apologies and, breaking typical player unity, called for Astros players to be punished by MLB. (Didn’t happen.)

It was noted that the Dodgers pitchers were hit fairly hard, aside from left-hander Alex Wood, who was so paranoid about the possibility of the Astros stealing signs (he had heard a buzz about it) that he and his catcher changed signs every few minutes, and the Astros never caught up.

Wood was the one Dodgers pitcher who handled Houston’s hitters, giving up one run in 7.2 innings over two games

Recently, Wood said he would rather pitch to a batter on steroids than to a hitter who knows what kind of pitch is coming. That tells us how big a difference sign-stealing makes.

So, yes, Dodgers Nation is ticked off. Their best shot in three decades of seeing a championship team was short-circuited by the cheaters banging a trash can.

At the moment, an MLB investigation into the 2018 ALCS between the Yankees and Boston Red Sox is under way. The key link here is Alex Cora, a coach on the 2017 Astros who was named manager of the Red Sox in 2018, and some weird stuff went on then, too, in his new job — except that the sign-stealing went high-tech and was based on live video. The Red Sox won the World Series, routing the Dodgers in five games.

At the least, Cora should be banned for life, for his leading role in the sign-stealing scandals of 2017 and 2018.

The Dodgers … all they can do is try to drive away the constant nagging, inside their heads, that they were baseball’s best team in 2017 and would have won the World Series if the games had been on the up and up.

That is small consolation, of course, for not celebrating their first world title since 1988.

With the commissioner having made clear he will not vacate Houston’s “championship” (despite calls from L.A. City Hall), maybe the pain can be reduced, a little, if the Astros are booed ahead of every game this year … and for years to come.

They perpetrated violence against the game and its reputation. They deserve harsh treatment by fans everywhere, and to be recalled as the Cheating Bastards … or perhaps Houston Assholes.


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