The 2017 Dodgers were perhaps the best Dodger team I ever saw play. A squad that was stacked with talent and would go on to break records. They collected the most wins in Los Angeles team history up to that point with a Major League-best 104 victories and +190 run differential. They easily won their fifth straight National League West championship, following that by sweeping the Arizona Diamondbacks in three games in the NLDS. L.A. advanced to the National League Championship Series for the second straight season and the third time in five seasons. The dream team went on to defeat the Chicago Cubs in five games, clinching their first World Series berth since 1988.
It was clear that getting past the 101-win Astros to capture that elusive World Championship wouldn’t be easy, but I never fathomed that Houston would do whatever it took — by whatever means necessary — to beat the Dodgers. This included a devious sign-stealing plot that would cheat the Dodgers out of a long-awaited World Series title and tarnish the authenticity of the very sport that I am so passionate about.
Ironically, a day after the Dodgers held a press conference at Dodger Stadium to introduce Mookie Betts and David Price to the organization and fans, the Astros tried to apologize for their misdoings in the 2017 World Series and their continued use of their ‘Codebreaker’ application scheme thereafter in a cringe-worthy press conference of their own from their Spring Training complex in Florida.
It reminded me of when I ask the young students at my school to apologize to each other after a playground tiff, and they say “sorry” to one another in an insincere and sarcastic tone while rolling their eyes.
“The whole Astros organization and the team feels bad about what happened in 2017,” Jose Altuve said. “We especially feel remorse for the impact on our fans and the game of baseball. Our team is determined to move forward to play with intensity and to bring back a championship to Houston in 2020.”
Altuve admitted that the players knew that what they were doing was wrong.
“Yeah, kind of. That’s why we feel bad. I’m not gonna say to you it was good,” Altuve said about their actions. “It was wrong. We feel bad. We feel remorse. Like I said — the impact on the fans, the impact on the game. We feel bad.”
I didn’t see remorse from the players, and they instead laid the blame on management instead. At this point, you can’t believe anything this organization says.
Astros owner Jim Crane even had the audacity to say that their actions “didn’t impact the game,” and that he shouldn’t be held accountable.
Crane also went on to say that he agrees with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred that the Astros shouldn’t have to vacate their 2017 World Series title, and he doesn’t feel it’s necessary to reach out to the Dodgers.
Former Dodger David Freese summed up my reaction perfectly.
The disaster of a press conference was maddening to watch, but it wasn’t a shocker that Crane continued to dodge any accountability or admit that the 2017 World Series is forever tainted. After all, the Astros have already cashed in their millions after stealing the title.
Manfred’s ‘punishment’ handed down earlier in the year didn’t do anything to set a precedent and was little more than a slap on the wrist. A fine of $5 million is laughable. Albeit it’s not the only issue with MLB that has been glossed over and handled improperly. Their problematic history in regards to domestic violence and their treatment of minor league players has been just as appalling.
Instead of addressing and fixing these glaring blemishes on the legacy and legitimacy of the game, Manfred dished out a distraction of a plan to radically overhaul the playoffs earlier this week per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. I can’t even put into words how much I hate this, much less that it was likely put out to canvass over the constant bad press regarding the Astros.
Speaking of hate, the Astros are going to be showered in boos this season. While I don’t condone hitting players with pitches on purpose, they definitely need to feel the frustration from the fans.
I’ve never had so many people ask me about baseball since the sign-stealing scandal was exposed. To my dismay, I’ve had to discuss such a negative subject in regards to the game I love. While I would like to see the 2017 title vacated and some honest and authentic apologies, it won’t change much. It won’t change the literal pain I felt when I witnessed the Dodgers lose to the Astros in Game 2 of the World Series with my two daughters at Dodger Stadium. It was the most heart-wrenching game I’ve ever attended.
It won’t change the fact that Clayton Kershaw‘s legacy has been negatively altered. Of course Kershaw and the Dodgers made mistakes during the series, and they most definitely needed to step up and execute. Yet, it’s hard to continue to lay all the blame on the players when we now know they were playing with all their cards face up.
I’ve begrudgingly moved on from the anger phase and now in the acceptance phase. When people ask me about the Astros, I shrug my shoulders. It sucks, but we have to move on.
I emerged from my disappointment fog this off-season when the Dodgers finally did what the fans had been asking for. They traded for the best player that was available for acquisition. Andrew Friedman and company accomplished all while keeping his top tier minor league system intact which will certainly yield them more reinforcements at the trade deadline. Admittedly I’m still holding out hope for a Yasiel Puig reunion with the Dodgers, but I’m ecstatic about an outfield that has two former MVPs in Betts and Cody Bellinger.
There’s a lot to be excited about in 2020, including a stacked lineup that could look like this:
CF Mookie Betts
1B Max Muncy
RF Cody Bellinger
SS Corey Seager
LF AJ Pollock
2B Gavin Lux
Not too shabby.
The situation’s still shitty, but I’ll feel much better when the Dodgers win it all in 2020 and at least doing so honestly.