Los Angeles Dodgers say thanks but no thanks to AstroGate consolation prize

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers sits in the dug out during game five of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Nationals defeated the Dodgers 7-3 and clinch the series 3-2. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 09: Manager Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers sits in the dug out during game five of the National League Division Series against the Washington Nationals at Dodger Stadium on October 09, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. The Nationals defeated the Dodgers 7-3 and clinch the series 3-2. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

The city council can make all the decrees they want, but the Los Angeles Dodgers do not want the 2017 World Series banner.

The Los Angeles City Council can resolve all they want that the Los Angeles Dodgers should be declared the 2017 World Series winners by Astrogate default. But at their weekend fan fest assorted and sundry Dodgers said, essentially, thanks, but no thanks, we’d prefer to win the World Series the old fashioned way, without buzzers, whistle rings, little drummer boys, and Spy vs. Spy.

“It already has an asterisk next to it” so far as pitcher Ross Stripling was concerned. “They cheated. They got away with it. They got a ring out of it,” said utility man Enrique Hernandez, perhaps as emphatically as a man might say it with an unrevealed wish to wring an Astro neck or three. Then, he softened. A little. “I’m extremely proud of our guys,” he added. “We won a game in Houston when they knew every pitch that was coming.”

Third baseman Justin Turner won’t accept even a symbolic gesture, such as a pair of Dodger fans arriving and displaying a large sign proclaiming, “LA. World Series champions 2017 and 2018.” (The Dodgers lost a second straight Series, to the Boston Red Sox, now under investigation for a replay room reconnaissance ring.) “We don’t want a fake banner hanging in [Dodger Stadium],” he insisted. “We didn’t earn that.”

Perhaps the only thing puzzling Turner about the Astrogate saga to date is why the only 2017 Astro to apologize thus far is now-White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel. “[He] didn’t hit,” Turner said of the veteran lefthander. “I don’t really know why he was the one apologizing. He’s the first one to mention anything like that, so I guess good for him.” Still.

“We know how hard it is to win a World Series,” Turner said just before addressing the Keuchel mea-sorta-culpa. “We know that it’s something you really have to earn, and with the commissioner’s report and the evidence and what they had, it’s hard to feel like they earned it and they earned the right to be called champions.”

A closer look at who's running the Dodgers. light. Related Story

When the 1951 New York Giants were exposed verifiably, once-and-for-all, as from-off-the-field telescopic sign-stealing cheaters down that staggering stretch, by which they forced a once-fabled three-game pennant playoff, Thomas Boswell—in a column called “The Miracle of Coogan’s Bluff, tarnished”—remembered broadcaster Russ Hodges‘s hysterical call and said, from now on, “We’ll always think, ‘The Giants stole the pennant! The Giants stole the pennant!'”

But no baseball official ever once moved to strip those Giants of their pennant and hand it to the Brooklyn Dodgers. Whom Boswell (and historiographer Peter Golenbock before him) reminded us actually tried to catch the Giants in the act, with coach Cookie Lavagetto bringing binoculars to the dugout the better to see just whom was doing what from the Polo Grounds clubhouses behind center field. The umps saw and confiscated Lavagetto’s counterspy glasses: “Why, it would be unfair for the victims to use binoculars to expose the telescopic cheaters!”

The 1940 Detroit Tigers had a little telescopic sign-stealing going on from the outfield seats in Briggs Stadium, by way of judicious deployment of the sight on pitcher Tommy Bridges‘s hunting rifle. They won the pennant but lost the World Series. No American League official seems to have even thought about declaring the Cleveland Indians the “rightful” pennant winners. (Those Indians finished a game out of first.) Not then, and not after Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg copped to the plot in his memoir.

The 1948 Indians indulged a little binocularity through the old Municipal Stadium scoreboard. Nobody in the league high command, nor commissioner Happy Chandler, demanded the Indians turn the World Series title over to the Boston Braves. Not then, nor after Indians first baseman Eddie Robinson revealed the scheme in his memoir. (Curse of Rocky Colavito? How about a Curse of Binocular Burglary explaining why the Indians haven’t won a World Series since they did it the year of the Berlin Airlift?)

When another Hall of Famer, Rogers Hornsby, made a big stink approaching 1962 in a True article proclaiming cheating to be nothing more than plain sound baseball, newly minted expansion New York Mets pitcher Jay Hook made a stink of his own to United Press International, the same spring, in a story for which Hook said flatly that the 1961 Reds trained sign-stealing field glasses from inside the Crosley Field scoreboard upon the enemy catchers behind the plate.

Hook even suggested then-commissioner Ford Frick might consider a formal ruling and enforcement to the tune of $10,000 fines per offense. Frick, whose most notorious buckpassing catch phrase was said to have been, “That’s a league matter,” doesn’t seem to have considered it, never mind handing a ruling down one way or the other. Not that we know of, anyway.

No National League grand high exhausted mystic rooster ordered those Reds to hand the pennant to the second-place Los Angeles Dodgers (four games out of first), but National League president Warren Giles laid down the law: sign-stealing with “devices,” on or off the field, verboten. His proclamation included a warning that any team caught with and using their spy kits would forfeit wins determined to have been abetted by them.

Well, now. Forfeits were more common pre-night ball, when teams tried stalling and umpires said tsk-tsk-naughty-naughty and gave it to the other guys. Since 1961, so far as can be determined, nobody’s forfeited a game thanks to off-field device or technological espionage. Of the five forfeits since, four involved fans running amok and one involved Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver delaying returning his team to the field after a rain delay, over a rain-delay tarp on the mound . . . in the Exhibition Stadium (Toronto) bullpen.

And if game forfeits have been that rare over all those years, don’t expect pennant or World Series forfeits after all these decades. Not unless (God forbid) a World Series yet to come should feature the team about to nail the Series caught red-Octobered with their own version of the Astro Intelligence Agency or the Red Sox Reconnaissance Ring.

Next. Dodgers bring back Alex Wood. dark

The L.A. City Council may have been talking (voting) through their chapeaus, but the Dodgers, remaining gracious if growling under their breaths in defeat, can keep their heads high on the high road.