Close your eyes and imagine being the reigning World Series champions, having gone to three of the last four World Series, and still feeling the need to be victimized by an up-and-coming franchise. What team are you? If you said the Los Angeles Dodgers, you’d be correct.
After their series with the San Diego Padres last weekend, Los Angeles Times beat writer Bill Plaschke wrote a piece titled “Dodgers get cheated again, this time by sign-stealing Fernando Tatis Jr. of Padres”. The main charge against Tatis, Jr. is that he glanced down at Will Smith‘s sign to Trevor Bauer during an at-bat where he took the Cy Young winner deep.
On the surface, this feels like it should be big news, right? The game’s hottest hitter and future face of the league caught cheating? HUGE NEWS. But there are two problems.
- It never really happened like that.
- The Dodgers have done the same thing in the past.
No one does a better breakdown than Jomboy Media. So when he put out a video on this situation, you knew he had the goods. Except as the video shows, Tatis looks down after Will Smith has removed the sign. If anything, as Jomboy points out, Tatis can see Smith shift outside. This wouldn’t tell him the pitch type but would help determine location.
But did Fernando Tatis, Jr. steal a sign? No. Check the tape. Send it to New York. The replay doesn’t lie. He looks down after the sign is gone. It would have taken Plaschke maybe 10 minutes to do that kind of research.
The second problem with this take is that in 2021 the internet has receipts on everything. So when you accuse a player of cheating, you better make sure your team is clean. And in the case of the Los Angeles Dodgers and peeking at signs, they are not.
But maybe it was a scrub who tried to get an advantage, or a player who is no longer on the team. I mean, it’s not like the Dodgers have a superstar who has also glanced towards a catcher to get an unfair advantage.
Oh, that’s right. It was Cody Bellinger.
Oops. That doesn’t help cool the temperature on Plascke’s take. In fact, this take is almost nuclear at this point.
San Diego radio host Darren Smith put it perfectly, that by inserting himself into this story, Plaschke has overstepped.
“When you have a columnist that decides he will be the judge and jury… and will say Tatis definitively cheated, that crossed the line that can’t be uncrossed.” Smith would go on to call Plaschke’s unfounded take as a “serious allegation coming from the Los Angeles Times and one that I’m not quite sure how it got passed muster with the editorial board. It’s one thing for fans to say it. It’s one thing for some goofballs. But when you’re talking about the credibility of a newspaper in the second largest city, accusing a player, a face of baseball…that to me has crossed a line that cannot be uncrossed.”
In his article Plaschke dances around the idea of throwing at Tatis and “making him feel… uncomfortable” at the plate. He also claims that Tatis stole the series from the Dodgers, which is simply not true. The Dodgers fell to the Padres because they couldn’t score with runners in scoring position, or they got beat by the bottom of the Padres order, like in Sunday’s thriller.
In Game 1, the difference makers were Jurickson Profar and Victor Caratini getting into scoring position in the 8th. Tatis would ground into a double-play on which Jurickson scored. In Game 2, the Dodgers scored just one run in the first and couldn’t get to Yu Darvish. For Game 3, the one in which the Bauer/Tatis Jr. incident took place, LA had plenty of chances to run up the score on Blake Snell, but failed to capitalize. Instead, late in the game up two runs, they brought Tatis, Jr. to the plate with the bases loaded.
Did the Dodgers have a series stolen from them by Tatis, Jr.? Absolutely not. In fact, if they had spent more time worrying about Jake Cronenworth, Jurickson Profar, and Victor Caratini, they might have taken the series.
Regardless, the main point here is that Bill Plaschke’s unfounded accusation is one of the more nuclear takes we’ve seen. Not since that one guy who refused to vote for Mariano Rivera on his Hall of Fame ballot, have we seen this kind of heat. And to think he’s framing the Dodgers as victims as if this team isn’t the best team in baseball.
Get real, Bill. Open your eyes to the reality we’re all living in. This isn’t 2017. The Dodgers are not victims anymore.
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