T-shirts, trash cans and heckling: Dodgers fans finally let the Astros know how they feel
The voice of Lance Lucchesi boomed throughout the section of Dodger Stadium far down the left-field line that once upon a time was called Mannywood for then-Dodgers slugger Manny Ramirez.
“Cheaters,” Lucchesi screamed at the visiting Houston Astros. “Cheaters, all of you.”
Lucchesi plopped into his seat after the outburst. He knew full well that only four players on the Astros active roster played in their 2017 World Series victory over the Dodgers, but he’d gotten something out of his system that festered for nearly two years.
A Dodgers fan since childhood, “back to the days of Russell, Cey and Garvey,” Lucchesi recalled how he felt when it was revealed in November 2019 the Astros had cheated in 2017 and 2018 by stealing signs on video and conveying them to hitters by banging on a trash can.
“I was almost to the point where it didn’t make me angry, it made me numb,” he said. “It made sense, how they seemed to know every pitch Yu Darvish threw, how they hit [Clayton] Kershaw.
“But it was a hard pill to swallow. How was it possible?”
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Lucchesi and his wife, Evelyn, had plenty of company in their catharsis. The crowd of 52,692 — the largest attendance at an MLB game this season — began the evening booing Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa during batting practice.
And even though the Dodgers were defeated 3-0 behind a sterling performance from starter Lance McCullers Jr. — the only pitcher on the Astros’ active roster who was on the 2017 team — fans were able to respond viscerally to a handful of the people whom they believe cheated to beat the Dodgers in that World Series.
In the first inning, an inflatable trash can was tossed onto the field from the right-field bleachers. Somebody in the left-field stands tossed a baseball onto the outfield grass.
A second inflatable trash can landed in the third inning with Altuve at bat, then a third was launched after he lined out to left field. Another baseball was tossed into right field, prompting an announcement over the PA system that ended with “... throwing objects on the field will be grounds for ejection.”
Not that Altuve seemed flustered. While fans booed him vociferously, he singled to lead off the game and again in the seventh inning. He made an athletic backhand play on a groundball by AJ Pollock in the second inning. But when he got picked off first by Blake Treinen with two outs in the seventh, the crowd exploded at Altuve getting a measure of comeuppance.
McCullers, who went 6 2/3 innings, was particularly calm.
“It was probably the most fun I’ve had pitching in quite a while,” he said. “I enjoyed the reception on the way out from the pen. There were a lot of people here and obviously a lot of booing, but I liked it. I enjoyed it.”
Amid the frothy, angry sea of Dodger blue, only a fearless few fans wearing Astros orange, navy and white cheered for Altuve and his teammates.
Three Houston men in Astros-tinged shirts and caps sat together behind the first-base dugout. One wore the iconic No. 34 jersey of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. They were on vacation, having attended the three Astros games in San Francisco over the weekend and had warily looked forward to visiting Dodger Stadium.
“We are fans, and that’s it,” said Kris Garcia, 43, whose T-shirt sported a map of Texas. “We are here to enjoy the game. If an Astro hits a home run, we will stand and cheer.”
Any discussion of leaving the Astros gear in the hotel room?
“No, no,” Garcia said. “We wear our gear no matter what. In San Francisco, it was no problem.”
Of course, the Giants don’t believe they were cheated out of a World Series title. And they are the Dodgers’ longtime rivals.
Astros reliever Ryne Stanek said fans near the bullpen confronted each other late in the game.
“We just sat there and watched people throw full beers at Astros fans,” he said. “It was bonkers out there for a while.”
In addition to heckling and throwing things, many Dodgers fans expressed their displeasure with imaginative T-shirts. One read Joe Kelly: “Nice swing B——" set over the pouty face the Dodgers reliever flashed to Correa after striking him out a year ago and punctuated with an expletive.
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Several fans sported Oscar the Grouch peeking out of his trash can home, a connection first made in a spoof on a “Family Guy” episode suggesting Oscar was behind the cheating scandal.
And there were T-shirts that read “Houston Trashstros” or were simply emblazoned with “Cheaters!” set over the Astros star logo.
Jeremy Lopez of Whittier got creative, donning an Astros jersey with the team name obscured by a strip of tape emblazoned with the word “Cowards.” He’s been a Dodgers season-ticket holder since he graduated from high school in 2002 and attended Games 2 and 7 of the 2017 World Series.
“I’ve been patiently waiting a long time for this night,” he said after delivering a full-throated howl at Altuve, one of many profanities delivered by fans in the less-than-PG environment.
“I’m finally letting it out. All Dodger fans needed this.”
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