Staff Pick: Best Dodgers: Cody Bellinger and Clayton Kershaw (copy)

It’s been a heck of a week for Major League Baseball. On Monday, Jan. 13, Commissioner Rob Manfeld released his office's findings that the Houston Astros used a complex cheating system to gain an unfair advantage in the 2017 season, which culminated with a World Series trophy.

The investigation found that the Astros and the Boston Red Sox used a camera installed in center field to pick up pitcher signs, which would then be relayed to the batter via banging on a trash can--an unconfirmed rumor has also been floating around that electric buzzers under the players’ jerseys were also used.

The discipline came down hard and fast, with Manfred announcing a $5 million fine, yearlong suspensions for general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch, and the stripping of their 2020 and 2021 first- and second-round draft picks. Luhnow and Hinch were subsequently fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.

The Red Sox, who were also implemented in a separate sign stealing scandal, have not received any fines as of press time, but regardless decided to cut ties with their two-year coach. Carlos Beltran, who was hired in November to manage the Mets, and played his final season for the Astros, was the only player named in the commissioner’s report and was fired by the Mets on Thursday.

But if you ask the Los Angeles City Council, those punishments simply aren’t enough.

The only constants between World Series are Alex Cora (who served as bench coach of the Astros during their 2017 World Series run and was allegedly pegged as the mastermind behind the system) and the Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost to both teams in back-to-back World Series match-ups in 2017 (Astros) and 2018 (Red Sox). Now Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, whose First District includes Dodger Stadium, is leading a push for both World Series trophies to be retroactively awarded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

A motion filed on Jan. 15 by Cedillo and Fifth District Councilmember Paul Koretz requests that “in addition to the penalties already imposed, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball remove the 2017 and 2018 World Series titles from the Houston Astros and Boston Red Sox; and hereby requests that the Commission of Major League Baseball recall the World Series Commission’s Trophies and award them to the Los Angeles Dodgers.”

The Los Angeles Dodgers were a force in 2017 and 2018, earning first-place finishes in the National League West with a record of 104-58 in 2017 and 92-71 in 2018.

The Dodger’s seemed primed to make it to the series for a third time in 2019 after once again capturing the National League West pennant, but their luck ran out in a five-game National League Division series match-up against the eventual champions, the Washington Nationals.

“This is an equity and justice thing,” Cedillo said in a prepared statement. “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.”

Cedillo isn’t the only one calling for MLB to further address the situation. Former Dodger third baseman David Freese on Twitter requested that the title wins should be vacated. Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood also took issue with the fact that no player (outside of the retired Beltran) had been punished.

“The fact that there hasn’t been any consequences to any players up to this point is wild,” Woods wrote on twitter.

The sign stealing strategy was revealed in 2019 when Mike Fiers, currently of the Oakland Athletics , to reporters Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drelich of the sports website The Athletic that the Astros had been stealing signs since at least 2017. Fiers played for the Astros during their championship run.

Cedillo said that he is focused on getting “justice” for Dodger fans.

“The mere acknowledgement is so significant,” Cedillo’s statement continued. “There has to be acknowledgement the best team in baseball those two years was the Dodgers. The Dodgers, and the people of Los Angeles, were robbed of what they deserved.”

Major League Baseball and the Dodgers find themselves in uncharted water. Outside of the 2005-2006 steroid investigations, the majority of scandals to hit Major League Baseball over its 150 year history have largely surrounded gambling and throwing games, not to gain a competitive advantage.

While it is highly unlikely that the MLB will make the unprecedented move to void both championships.

The City Council will vote on the motion on Tuesday, Jan. 21. MLB did not respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE: On Tuesday, Jan. 21 the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved the motion. 

sthomas@timespublications.com

©Los Angeles Downtown News 2019