Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Well this is an interesting take on the Houston Astros cheating scandal

A lot of issues have popped up since the Houston Astros felt the wrath of the MLB Gods over their cheating scandal. This includes the Los Angeles City Council petitioning MLB to strip Houston of their 2017 World Series win and award it to the runner-up L.A. Dodgers.

But here's a scenario I haven't seen floated yet - the fact that a disastrous outing versus the cheating Astros could have made the difference between a journeyman pitcher being kept on his major league team or being demoted to the minors, and eventually out of MLB altogether.

According to his lawsuit, former Dodgers pitcher Mike Bolsinger pinpoints an August 2017 game versus Houston while he was pitching for the Toronto Blue Jays and clinging to a spot in their bullpen that may have destroyed any chance he had of remaining in the big leagues. The Astros shelled him so badly that he felt like their batters knew what he was going to throw.

Turns out he was right. From the linked article:

During that outing for the Blue Jays, Bolsinger gave up four runs while recording only one out, the suit claims, adding that 12 of the 29 pitches he threw were preceded by banging noises from the Astros' dugout, a noise now known to have been used to alert batters that an off-speed pitch was about to be thrown.

"I don't know if I've had a worse outing in my professional career," Bolsinger told USA Monday. "I remember saying, 'It was like they knew what I was throwing. They're laying off pitches they weren't laying off before. It's like they knew what was coming.' That was the thought in my head. I felt like I didn't have a chance."

Bolsinger was demoted to the minors after that game, then dropped by the Blue Jays altogether the following season. He wound up playing in Japan. His suit contends that the disastrous game with Houston resulted in the Jays (and apparently the rest of the league) no longer viewing him as capable of playing in the league.

Interestingly, while the damages Bolsinger is requesting for himself were not revealed, he's asking that the Astros pay $31 million dollars to Los Angeles area charities. How did he come up with that astronomical amount (see what I did there - hee!). It's the amount of bonus money Houston received for "winning" the 2017 World Series versus Los Angeles. $31 million freaking dollars. Who says crime doesn't pay?

I don't know if this guy is going to be able to wrangle millions out of the Astros, but I think the really interesting question is how the cheating scandal - and that particular game - may have changed the course of his career. If he was just hanging on to an MLB roster spot and trying to prove himself worthy of keeping it, that one game may have made all the difference in the world. I'm sure he can't help wonder if a successful outing that day would have translated to continued employment in Major League Baseball, and I don't blame him for wondering. The sad thing is that he'll never know if he would have won that game or not, but now he'll always wonder. I'm not a fan of frivolous lawsuits, but I think the guy has a legitimate gripe, and possibly a very legitimate case. I'm genuinely curious to see how this plays out.

And one more thing - how many other players out there are wondering how badly they may have been damaged by the cheating, and what will they want in compensation? Bolsinger's suit may just be the tip of the iceberg.

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