We’re both Dodger fans; JJ for his entire life, Mike for about four years. We both watched (and yelled and cried and screamed) as the Dodgers lost the World Series in 2017 and 2018, our hearts broken as magical seasons came to an end at the hands of, it turns out, cheaters.
There’s no denying that fact regarding 2017. Major League Baseball has rendered its verdict that the Astros were cheating their narrow butts off, stealing signs and relaying those signs via video and audible signal. As we’ve rewritten this column for a fourth time today, there’s new evidence suggesting that Jose Altuve, that tiny such and such, was wearing a wire with a buzzer on it under his jersey to signal to him when a breaking ball was coming.
Last night, Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo’s resolution to demand that the MLB give the 2017 and 18 championships to the Dodgers was approved by the LA City Council.
While we don’t agree with the sentiment entirely, we do appreciate the gesture—it was our first laugh in an otherwise obscenity-filled week when it came to Dodgers news.
First of all: Absolutely. Yes. The Astros’ 2017 World Series title should be vacated. Unprecedented, unheard of, blah blah blah. If you cheat, you don’t get to keep the trophy. That’s true in youth sports, high school sports, college sports and it should be true in professional sports, as well. Especially if it’s proven that Altuve and other players were wearing a BUZZER, there’s no excuse to leave the Commissioner’s Trophy sitting in Houston as pillaged treasure.
That doesn’t mean that it should be relocated to Los Angeles. Yes, it’s true, the Dodgers and their fans were robbed, but, as former pitcher Brandon McCarthy, who played with the Dodgers from 2015 to 2017, put it: “A championship is a feeling. A collection of moments that create a lasting feeling for players, staff and fans. Getting one awarded to you after the fact robs you of ever having the feelings associated with the feat so it’s still like it never happened.”
In other words, if MLB did FedEx the trophy to Dodger Stadium, JJ wouldn’t be on the phone crying with his dad about breaking a 30-year drought and reliving the 1988 title they watched together as father and (tiny) son. Mike wouldn’t be throwing his son into the van to drive to L.A. for a parade. Those moments are what a championship is as much as anything else.
Actually, there is a local sports argument that dovetails with this issue.
When Artesia basketball forfeited the 1998 and 1999 CIF-SS basketball championships, those titles were vacated. Long Beach Poly had been defeated in both title games by an Artesia team that was found to have illegal international players, among other violations committed by the Pioneers. The Jackrabbits won 1997 and 2000 basketball titles and were cheated out of a well-earned four-peat under coach Ron Palmer.
Still, Palmer and many other Poly players, fans, and assistants have said to us over the years: “We didn’t earn those championships. We lost the games.”
For the other side of the argument, the one Cedillo is making, consider the 1992 Long Beach Little League World Series team. They were defeated 15-4 in the championship game by a team later found to have fielded older players; when the team that won the game was forced to forfeit, Little League rules dictated that Long Beach was to be awarded a 6-0 victory by forfeit, and to be given the trophy. That team and the 1993 team (which won on the field 3-2) are among the city’s proudest sports memories.
The difference there, in our opinion, is those were kids. The Dodgers are professionals and, as Palmer put it, they lost the games. So please, Major League Baseball, take the trophy away from Houston—but don’t send it to the Dodgers or their fans. We’re better than that.
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