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Dodgers Dugout: Houston Asterisks and Rob Manfred make bad situation worse

Justin Turner on Rob Manfred
Justin Turner on Houston Astros.
(Los Angeles Times)

Hi, and welcome to another edition of Dodgers Dugout. My name is Houston Mitchell and while I appreciate all the suggestions, for family reasons I believe I am going to keep my first name..

A couple of newsletters ago, I gave some advice on what MLB should have done to the Houston Asterisks, and advised Dodgers fans that at some point it was best to focus on the upcoming season. And I have tried to do that. But the Asterisks and MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred make that so hard to do.

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Many of the Asterisks offered a “sorry, not sorry” apology after reporting to their spring training camp over the last week. These “apologies” included:

“This didn’t impact the game. We had a good team. We won the World Series.”—Asterisks owner Jim Crane.

“When you analyze the games, we won fair and square. We earned that championship.”—Asterisks shortstop Carlos Correa.

To be fair, some players seemed genuinely remorseful, but the general feeling is that the Asterisks really don’t care that they cheated to win. So, remarks like the ones above brought out interesting reactions from others, such as:

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“The commissioner did an investigation and found that they cheated in 2017 and 2018. Somebody has got to say the word over there: cheated. That’s important to me.”—Nationals GM Mike Rizzo.

“They’re only doing this apology because they got caught. It’s really a disgrace to the game.” Cubs infielder Kris Bryant.

“Everybody knows they stole the ring from us.”—Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger.

Bellinger’s remark brought this classy response from Correa:

“Cody didn’t have a good World Series. For him to be talking about us stealing that championship, don’t talk about it. You should have done something about it.”

Which rockets Correa to the top of my least-favorite player list. Hey, maybe if Bellinger knew what was coming…

There was talk of pitchers across baseball throwing at Asterisks batters on purpose this season. Which led Commissioner Rob Manfred, the only commissioner I’m aware of who seems to hate the sport they are in charge of, to say that there will be severe punishments to any pitcher throwing at Asterisk hitters.

So, cheat to win a World Series, no punishment. Throw at a hitter for cheating, severe punishment. Great message to send, Mr. Commissioner.

The call for Manfred to vacate the title and take back the World Series trophy grew stronger among baseball fandom, leading to him to make this bizarre statement, which he later apologized for:

“The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.”

The commissioner of the sport views the trophy that 30 teams dream of hoisting at the end of the season as just a piece of metal. Or, as Justin Turner put it:

“For him to devalue it the way he did yesterday just tells me how out of touch he is with the players in this game. At this point the only thing devaluing that trophy is that it says ‘Commissioner’ on it.”

And that’s why Dodger fans love Justin Turner.

So, at this point, I say hold onto your anger, Dodgers fans. The Asterisks don’t care that they cheated. Neither does Manfred, apparently. Some people think he didn’t punish the players because he didn’t want to tangle with the all-powerful Players’ Union. But if reaction across the league is any indication, he made the wrong call. And if they union had gotten involved, they would have gotten some blowback from their own members. Instead, Manfred apparently took the easy way out and created a bigger mess.

And the lesson to players remains: Go ahead and cheat. No one is going to punish you.

By the way, I thought of an additional punishment for the Asterisks: Make them bat first all season, even during home games. They had an unfair advantage for two years. Might as well let them see what it is like for a season.

Who’s going to make the team?

It’s a little early yet, but here’s a first guess as to who will make the 26-man roster of the Dodgers on opening day.

Position players

Austin Barnes

Matt Beaty

Cody Bellinger

Mookie Betts

Kiké Hernandez

Gavin Lux

Max Muncy

Joc Pederson

AJ Pollock

Corey Seager

Will Smith

Chris Taylor

Justin Turner

Pitchers

Scott Alexander

Pedro Baez

Walker Buehler

Kenley Jansen

Joe Kelly

Clayton Kershaw

Adam Kolarek

Dustin May

David Price

Ross Stripling

Blake Treinen

Julio Urias

Alex Wood

The bullpen pieces could be different than above, but this gives you a general idea of what the team would look like if the season began today.

Ask Ross Porter

I am happy to announce that former Dodgers broadcaster Ross Porter has agreed to return for another season of “Ask Ross Porter.” We have a new email address this season for it. Ross will have access to this email address and will get your questions without me having to forward them. So, if you have a message (like thanking him for his years as a broadcaster) and not a question, feel free to let him know. Send your question to: rossporterdodgers@gmail.com. His answers will start appearing the week of March 30.

What is your first Dodgers memory?

I’m guessing most everyone who reads this has been a Dodgers fan for quite a while. I’d love for you to send me your first Dodgers memory, and I’ll run it in an upcoming Dodgers Dugout. Include your name. And don’t send only a sentence, tell why that memory sticks out in your mind. You can email me your memory at houston.mitchell@latimes.com. Thanks! I’ll start with the responses when the season begins.

And finally

Dodgers reveal updated renderings of center field renovations. Look at them here.

Until next time...
Have a comment or something you’d like to see in a future Dodgers newsletter?Email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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