Joshua Zonni said his heart shattered as he sat in Dodger Stadium during Game 7 of the 2017 World Series and watched his hometown team lose to the Houston Astros.
Zonni, 21, and his family have had season tickets for Dodgers games for more than 40 years, but this was the first time he had seen his team play for a championship. The Dodgers haven’t won the World Series since 1988, 10 years before Zonni was born.
At the time, he said, he respected the Astros and “gave them props” for having the better team.
But that changed this week, when Major League Baseball released a report detailing how the Astros illegally used technology to steal opposing teams’ pitching signs in home games during the 2017 season. Managers were fired; fines and additional punishments were issued.
But that’s not nearly enough for many Dodgers fans, especially after they learned that the Boston Red Sox, who beat the Dodgers in the 2018 World Series, are also under investigation for alleged cheating.
They think MLB should strip the Astros of their title, and some further demand the championship be awarded to Los Angeles. The City Council is even lobbying for trophies to be presented to the Dodgers.
Los Angeles has long been a city that loves winners. And the 2017 World Series loss was a heartbreaker, not just for avid Dodgers fans, but also for many in the city who rallied around the team.
The cheating scandal has brought more heartbreak — as well as anger over the idea that L.A. might have been robbed.
City Councilman Gil Cedillo wants the council to vote on a resolution demanding that MLB award both the 2017 and 2018 titles to L.A.
“This is an equity and justice thing,” Cedillo said. “Who was the best team in 2017? Who was the best team in 2018? It was the Dodgers. They got beat by teams that were cheating.”
Zonni, of Chino Hills, said he doesn’t buy the Astros’ stance that there was no evidence showing Houston’s actions affected the series outcome.
“If they were confident in their team’s ability, they wouldn’t feel the need to cheat,” he said. “Even if the Dodgers weren’t in contention, as a fan of the MLB and professional sports in general, you expect to see these players and organizations be world-class teams, and to see the need to cheat to get an advantage over the opponent is sad. It shows immorality of the organizations to benefit themselves.”
Zonni said he thinks MLB should give Los Angeles the title. Barring that, he said, the Astros should be stripped of the championship at “bare minimum.” But the damage is done, he lamented: The Astros robbed him and fellow Dodgers fans of a possibly once-in-a-lifetime experience, and that’s something they can’t get back.
“Anyone would agree that when a competitor cheats, the organization who plays fair is entitled to the championship,” Zonni said. “But either way, it will never be the same as watching your team win it live.”
Daniel Juarez, another Dodgers fan, sees it a little differently.
Juarez, 24, has worked at the Dodgers Clubhouse in Universal Citywalk for about two years and remembers how packed the fan apparel store was during the World Series. The scandal, he said, is unfortunate, especially since fans worked hard to be able to afford the expensive tickets.
Still, the North Hollywood resident doesn’t think L.A. should be awarded the championship.
“We know we deserve it, but it’s over with and done,” Juarez said. “Dodgers fans are the most loyal fans in baseball. We want a ring, but there’s nothing we can do about it. If they vacate the title, that will be justice for the fans and Los Angeles.”
Ethel Alvavrez, a 35-year-old fan from Whittier, agreed.
“You can’t do a redo, and the teams have changed since then,” she said. “I think Houston getting reprimanded is good, and they should also vacate the title.”
Juarez and Zonni said the Astros deserve all the criticism it’s receiving, and both expect opposing fans will be vocal about their displeasure. Regardless of whether L.A. gets the championship, though, the sport took a major hit this week, Zonni said.
“The reputation of the whole league is tarnished,” Zonni said. “Tons of children look up to these athletes in so many ways, and to see that the best of the best feel the need to cheat definitely sends the wrong message.”