Associated Press

Dodgers on Astros: ‘They cheated and got away with it’

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LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Dodgers would rather earn a World Series trophy on their own than accept any scraps from the Houston Astros or Boston Red Sox, the teams that beat them in 2017 and ’18.

Despite being eager to focus on the upcoming season, several Dodgers publicly for the first time expressed annoyance at the Astros for the sign-stealing system used during the 2017 season, when Houston beat them in seven games in the World Series.

“They cheated and they got away with it,” utilityman Kike Hernandez said Saturday during the team’s annual FanFest outside Dodger Stadium. “I don’t think it hurts more now than it did three years ago when we lost the Series.”

Hernandez said the Dodgers “had our doubts” about the Astros in 2017.

“Everybody warned us. A lot of people told us to worry about them,” Hernandez said. “We just thought it was just rumors, but I guess not.”

Two weeks ago, Major League Baseball released the findings of its investigation, which concluded the Astros used a center-field monitor for real-time video of catchers’ signs and subsequently banged a trash can to alert their hitters of incoming pitches, confirming initial comments by Mike Fiers to The Athletic.

MLB suspended Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch for the entire season and both were subsequently fired by owner Jim Crane. The team was also fined $5 million.

The Red Sox are under investigation for possibly stealing signs in Alex Cora’s first season as manager in 2018, when Boston beat the Dodgers. Cora has since been fired.

“Frustrating is probably the floor of my emotions,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

In hindsight, Roberts said pitchers Clayton Kershaw, Kenley Jansen and Yu Darvish received “unfair criticism” for their performances against the Astros in the World Series.

“It’s really frustrating if you look at what could’ve happened,” Roberts said.

Roberts has a long friendship with Hinch, whom he said he hasn’t spoken to since the scandal broke.

“I don’t think it really affects our relationship personally,” Roberts said.

The Los Angeles City Council voted symbolically this week to ask MLB to strip the Astros and Red Sox of their World Series titles and award the trophies to the Dodgers.

Thanks but no thanks, third baseman Justin Turner said.

“We don’t want a trophy, we don’t want a fake banner hanging in our stadium,” he said. “We didn’t earn it.”

At the same time, Turner called into question the Astros’ right to call themselves champions.

“It’s hard to feel like they earned it,” he said. “Just not 100% sure if they should be called champions for the rest of their lives.”

Andrew Friedman, president of baseball operations, was asked whether the Astros have contacted him to apologize or publicly been contrite enough.

“They have not,” he said in answer to both questions.

After initially poring over MLB’s report, Friedman said he’s tried to let it go.

“It’s just wasted energy and effort at this point because that’s taking away from something that we can do to help make ourselves better in 2020,” he said.

Turner said the players want to experience everything that goes along with winning a World Series, including dog-piling on the field after the final out, popping Champagne in the clubhouse, and parading through the city’s streets.

“We want to do it the right way,” he said.

Madison Bumgarner apparently hunts bears, too

Madison Bumgarner
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We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).

Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.

On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”

As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.