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On Local Government – Spring training brings no asterisk

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by Bob Pinzler

I am a genetic Dodger fan. I was born in Brooklyn and went to Ebbets Field in the three years before they moved. When I first arrived in LA for a new job in 1976, the radio in the rental car I got had its radio set to the Dodgers’ station, so one of the first voices I heard here was Vin Scully. 

Nearly as much as I love the Dodgers, I love the game. But the last few months have challenged that. More than the steroid era or the “hopped up” ball years, with their inflated statistics, nothing has depressed me about baseball like the cheating scandal.

And, it is not just about what happened to the Dodgers in consecutive World Series. It is that, in both cases, the Dodgers were probably playing the wrong team. They should have faced the Yankees, likely both times.

Understand, I believe one of the greatest sentences in the English language is “Yankees lose.” (The other one is “Pitchers and catchers report.”) Nevertheless, likely two American League titles were stolen from them by the Astros and the Red Sox.

Major League Baseball (MLB) has not been a good organization to deal with cheating. It took years to get the players to stop using performance enhancing drugs. They probably don’t get everyone, but they are at least trying. And the penalties are steep.

So, what should baseball do about this latest problem? First, the titles of the 2017 Astros and 2018 Red Sox should be vacated. Second, the players need to be disciplined, either by suspensions or by ruling the teams ineligible for the post-season for at least two years. Third, any batting records set or tied by members of those teams during those seasons should be expunged. In addition, cumulative batting histories should not include any statistics from the offending seasons. 

Finally, MLB should have monitors, assigned by the Leagues and not the offending team, in the Astros and Red Sox dugouts during home games to limit access to any technology that could be a part of a pattern of cheating.

Over recent years, the popularity of baseball has declined, specifically in comparison to football and, to some extent, basketball. The decline with respect to communities like young African-Americans is much steeper than the rest of the population. This is especially apparent with the Dodgers, the home of Jackie Robinson.

This scandal doesn’t help that. And that negative impact will be exacerbated if MLB does nothing more that it is now intending to do.

I feel like Roy Hobbs in “The Natural.” “God, I love baseball.” And, as the movie showed, you can win without cheating.

Wouldn’t that be a World Series to see.


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