New Astros manager Dusty Baker told reporters today that he thinks that baseball needs to step in to protect his players from any “premeditated” retribution for this winter’s cheating scandal. Here’s Baker’s full quote, per multiple reports:
“I’m depending on the league to try to put a stop to the seemingly premeditated retaliation that I’m hearing about. In most instances in life, you get kind of reprimanded when you have premeditated anything. I’m just hoping that the league puts a stop to this before somebody gets hurt.”
Baker’s in a no-win situation here. It’s his job to vouch for his players, regardless of whether or not they cheated and provoked the current outcry among players around the league. And to be clear, the other players are royally ticked off. Trevor Bauer went on the mother of all rants yesterday. Cody Bellinger said that the Astros stole the World Series from the Dodgers and that Jose Altuve stole the 2017 MVP from Aaron Judge. And yes, Ross Stripling said that he probably would have thrown at the Astros had his trade to the Angels not been nixed. That’s all just a small taste of the venom players everywhere are spraying.
Their anger is completely justified. Livelihoods were impacted, not just wins and losses. There’s money involved when you win championships and awards, to say nothing of when you pitch well enough to stay in the league. Just ask Mike Bolsinger about that. Not a single Astros player has been punished for any of this. And no, being forced to give an excruciating press conference and answer questions about cheating is not a punishment.
So yes, one would expect that more than a few fastballs are going to be thrown at the Astros this year. Baseball invited this sort of frontier justice when they granted the Astros immunity for their testimony. By not punishing the players, Rob Manfred put this in the hands of pitchers with itchy trigger fingers. Dusty’s right, someone might get hurt. But that’s where we are right now, and it’s only going to get worse before it gets better.
Someone’s going to get suspended for throwing at the Astros. It’ll be a longer suspension than any of Houston’s players had to serve for cheating to win the World Series.