Column: Cheaters do prosper, at least in baseball

Remorse? Carlos Correa has none.

Not for stealing the 2017 World Series from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Certainly not for celebrating on the field at Dodger Stadium after advancing in the MLB playoffs.

“I know a lot of people are mad. I know a lot of people don’t want to see us here,’’ the Houston shortstop said. “But what are they going to say now?”

A lot of things, I’m sure, though most are unprintable. Still, the words pale with what they might say if the Astros and Dodgers advance to play in another World Series.

That unpleasant possibility is now closer to reality, with no thanks given to commissioner Rob Manfred. He’s the one who allowed Correa and his fellow cheaters to play this season without as much as a slap on the wrist, and he’s the one who expanded the playoffs so much that a losing team like the Astros somehow found a way to get in.

Thankfully there were no fans at Dodger Stadium the other day to watch the Astros celebrate another playoff triumph. Still, the cardboard cutouts had to be irritated to be glued to their seats as many of the same cheaters who won a World Series at Chavez Ravine hugged and high-fived each other after eliminating the Oakland A’s.

If the sight of the hated Astros celebrating on hallowed ground was bad enough, listening to them talk about it afterward was even worse.

No apologies. No remorse. No acknowledgment about the way the 2017 World Series was won.

“We want to be able to bring another championship to the city of Houston,’’ Correa said. “We know what it feels like so we want to be able to have that feeling once again. 2017 was such a special year celebrating with the fans in Houston, so the thing that motivates us is to get to feel that again.”

That feeling, of course, is what the Dodgers desperately wanted and would have loved to have. It’s a feeling they almost surely would have had if the Astros were not banging on garbage cans so they knew what pitches were coming.

But now, in the weirdest baseball postseason ever, they had to watch the Astros celebrating in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, there could be even worse scenes ahead.

We’re four wins away from the travesty that could be an Astros-Dodgers World Series. Eight wins away from the Astros making a total mockery of a season that was struggling for legitimacy to begin with.

All with a team of cheaters acting like they’ve been wronged instead of the other way around.

“I think them playing the victim’s complex card is a little interesting to me,’’ Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said on Sirius XM radio. “Like, I get that it’s been a difficult year for them, but to play the victim card, I think has been, you know, a curious strategy.”

Curious, yes. Tone deaf, for sure. Stupidly arrogant fits, too.

Then again, we’re used to millionaire baseball players having their way. And they’re used to doing what they want, unquestioned for the most part unless they really cross the line.

Which is what the Astros did in 2017, though they would like nothing better than for you to forget. Forget about the banging on the garbage cans, forget that the Astro hitters knew what was coming before the opposing pitcher began his delivery.

One thing we’d all like to forget about is they won the World Series, though we keep getting reminded of it at every turn.

The reality is the World Series trophy the Astros paraded around Houston in 2017 is still there. So are many of the players on that team, including Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel, George Springer and Josh Reddick.

They aren’t victims of anything, no matter what they might want you to believe. They were active co-conspirators in a scheme that wrongfully took a World Series title from Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers in 2017 — and came agonizingly close to capturing it all again last year against the Washington Nationals.

To see them winning in the playoffs is distasteful. To see the attitude they’re taking into the American League Championship Series against Tampa Bay is disgusting.

The sad thing is it didn’t need to happen. A commissioner with some backbone — a commissioner who wanted to protect the integrity of the game — would have acted. There would have been suspensions, and they would have been long.

Instead, the message Manfred and MLB are sending is that cheaters do prosper.

The message baseball fans should send back is this: An Astros championship in 2020 will be just as illegitimate as the one in 2017.

___

Tim Dahlberg is a national sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at tdahlberg@ap.org or http://twitter.com/timdahlberg

Copyright © 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.

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