Its been mentioned here earlier this week in the links but I didn’t see a lot of discussion on the matter. So we’ll go ahead and do it now because unlike most sports fans, I at least admit I am petty*. Why not?
This is my review of Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender Brown Ale
A “Super Fan” of the Los Angeles Dodgers is filing a class action lawsuit against Major League Baseball for the cost of his World Series Tickets, parking, food, and beer as soon as he is done calculating the cost of concessions. A Los Angeles city councilman is filing a resolution declaring the Dodgers champions. Why? The Dodgers lost the 2017 World Series to a team determined after an MLB investigation to use an elaborate system involving high power cameras and “sophisticated means” to communicate to the dugout. They set up a camera in the outfield focused on the catcher’s crotch, identified the pitch, and simply relayed the corresponding sign/pitch to the video room the next time they saw the same sign. They then relayed this to somebody in the dugout who banged on a trash can to signal the next pitch would be a breaking ball. Listen closely before the pitcher steps off the rubber…and then watch the batter strike out even though he supposedly knew the pitch.
Now this fan, before we say anything else, looks exactly like you think he does. To add further insult to injury the Boston Red Sox are also under investigation in a sign stealing scheme of their own and fired their manager, who was implicated in the investigation into the Astros. He coached there the year prior, and the Red Sox beat the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series.
Did the Astros cheat? Absolutely. There is no denying that.
The jury is still out with the Red Sox but firing Alex Cora doesn’t look like a good sign. MLB absolutely has rules against using mechanical devices to steal signs from the opposite team. Eyeballs are fair game. Whatever punishment MLB decides to issue is more than warranted. However, the question remains as to whether or not this actually determined the outcome because this ultimately is what this lawsuit is about. Sad beard wanted to see his team win a World Series and was arguably cheated out of it.
It is not that simple.
The 2017 World Series went all seven games with the Dodgers having home field advantage. Dodgers won at home for Games 1, and 6. They also won in Houston for Game 4 (6-2 LA) and very nearly won the slugfest that was Game 5 (13-12 Hou). If the Astros were uniquely advantaged because of this scheme, why didn’t they win all their games at home? Seems like the Dodgers had a chance to win in LA where the Astros could not employ their scheme, and even played well enough to win in Houston (nearly twice) in spite of it. Another issue that comes up is Yu Darvish, a pitcher for the Dodgers traded for that season, and had a terrible game (Game 3) in Houston where he gave up four earned runs. Given he had no issues with his control or delivery, his poor play is explained by the sign stealing scheme. At first glance this seems plausible given his career against Houston to that point appears to have gone very well. His postseason stats up to that point however, are mixed. Even if the sign stealing scheme was used against him, he also pitched in Game 7 in LA, where he again gave up another four earned runs. One could argue he was traded from the Texas Rangers, a team that plays in the same division as the Astros, and they used previous footage from previous games he pitched at Minute Maid Park. If one were to argue this point, they would have to explain why he used identical signs, with multiple catchers on two separate teams. A simple answer is the Astros had a good scouting report as a result of familiarity with inter-division opponents. The bottom line in 2017, the Dodgers had their chance and failed.
In 2018 they played the Boston Red Sox. This was a much quicker series with Boston winning the first two games at Fenway Park. The Dodgers won Game 3 at home and then lost the remaining two games in Los Angeles. Once again, the Dodgers had their chance to play at home where there was no scheme against them. If the Red Sox used a similar sign stealing scheme to win a World Series, they should also be punished. But to imply this is a case for an asterisk, or even strip the title from the teams is unreasonable. There were too many variables involved to prove a definitive cause and effect for one team beating another in a seven game series.
Even if it did have a direct effect it does not necessarily mean the Dodgers would have won, because the teams that cheated arguably cheated throughout the season and the rest of the playoffs. Would the teams that cheated beaten the teams they beat in the playoffs to get to the World Series? Would they have even made the playoffs? Could the Dodgers beat the team that ultimately would win against the AL team that prevailed? It is impossible to determine how entire seasons would play out had they not cheated, and nobody determines a winner based on theoretical projections—they have to play the game. In the same way the records broken during the steroid era cannot be taken down because many players used PEDs in the minor leagues and were ultimately called up to the Major Leagues because of their inflated offensive production. Others continued using them in the Major League. Too many were cheating then to punish them all and based on the statements MLB made on the matter, these sign stealing schemes were more widespread than these two teams.
Again, none of this changes the fact the Dodgers had their chances at home where they were not playing against a stacked deck and even had the advantage to use their own sign-stealing scheme they were accused of using in 2018.
Also, screw these guys for asking the government to declare their team that lost the winner.
This beer is dangerous. It contains actual cold brew coffee so don’t drink this at night unless you plan to stay up for extra innings. For a coffee flavored beer, its actually rather smooth, in the way a brown ale should be. Surly Brewing Co. Coffee Bender Brown Ale: 3.8/5
*In the interest of full disclosure, I am a Diamondbacks fan. Naturally, I despise the Dodgers and find this whole thing schadenfraudelicious. No, I don’t hate them because I am jealous of their “success,” because last I checked my team managed to win a World Series since the Reagan administration.