Dodgers frustrated by sign-steal scandal but don't want 'fake banner' for 2017

LOS ANGELES -- Many expressed frustration over the Houston Astros' role in the sign-stealing scandal and others conveyed the importance of moving on, but virtually every member of the Los Angeles Dodgers was consistent on one point -- they have no interest in being awarded the 2017 World Series championship.

"We don't want a trophy," longtime third baseman Justin Turner said, alluding to a far-fetched resolution that was recently approved by the L.A. City Council. "We don't want a fake banner hanging in our stadium. We didn't earn that. We didn't catch that final out to win a championship. We don't want that.

"We just wanna move forward in 2020, get prepared this season, and do it the right way and get all those experiences -- get to catch that last out, get to dogpile on the field, put on those shirts, put on those hats, have someone be the MVP and get a car, be in the locker room, spray the champagne, get sized for rings. Take that parade that L.A. is dying to have, and have that parade in downtown L.A., and do it the right way."

An investigation by Major League Baseball determined the Astros used a center-field camera for real-time video of catchers' signs and subsequently banged a trash can to alert their hitters of incoming pitches, confirming comments made by Mike Fiers to The Athletic a few months earlier.

The sign-stealing practice -- which also included the more conventional method of using the video replay room to decode signs and relay them to a runner on second base -- extended into the 2017 postseason, when the Astros ultimately defeated the Dodgers in Game 7 of the World Series.

"'Frustrating,'" manager Dave Roberts said at the team's annual FanFest at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, "is probably the floor of my emotions."

Pitcher Ross Stripling and infielder Enrique Hernandez both said they had suspicions about the Astros illegally stealing signs heading into the 2017 World Series, but they didn't know the extent of their methods.

"You could say it's a shame," Hernandez said. "We had our doubts. People talk around the league. A lot of people told us to worry about them."

Roberts said he specifically felt bad for pitchers like Clayton Kershaw, Yu Darvish and Kenley Jansen, who took a lot of criticism for their performance against the Astros in that World Series.

MLB released the findings of its investigation on Jan. 13 and also doled out punishments. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch were each suspended for the entire season and subsequently fired by owner Jim Crane. The team was also fined $5 million and forced to forfeit four draft picks within the first two rounds of the next two drafts.

In the following days, Alex Cora, a bench coach for the 2017 Astros who went on to manage a Boston Red Sox team caught up in similar allegations, was fired. So was Carlos Beltran, a key veteran player on that Astros team who had just been named the New York Mets manager in November.

The Dodgers returned to the World Series in 2018 and lost in five games to the Red Sox, who are being investigated by MLB for using their video replay room to make baserunners aware of the catchers' signs.

Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes the penalties levied against the Astros were enough to prevent other teams from engaging in a similar practice moving forward, but that won't necessarily make his players feel better.

"MLB did what they had to do, what they felt was necessary," Turner said. "I think the tough part is -- we know how hard it is to win a World Series. Getting there back-to-back years and not being successful -- we know that it's something that you really have to earn. With the commissioner's report and the evidence and what they have, it's hard to feel like [the Astros] earned it and they earned the right to be called champions, which I think is something everybody in this game holds pretty highly."

Former Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel, who is now with the Chicago White Sox, on Friday became the first member of the 2017 team to publicly apologize, saying the rest of his former teammates should do the same. Some of those players, most notably Alex Bregman and Jose Altuve, have declined that opportunity when approached by the media in recent weeks.

Friedman was asked if any members of the Astros have reached out to apologize personally, and also whether they have publicly shown enough remorse.

"They have not," Friedman responded, "and in my personal opinion they have not."

Does it matter?

"I think it means more to the community, to the fans," Hernandez said. "I'm just a player. I think the fact that we got cheated in the World Series -- whether you apologize or not, it is what it is. I guess when you do get suspended for the other way of cheating, when you do steroids, you apologize. Maybe they are going to apologize in the future. I don't know."

Roberts considers himself a close friend of Hinch, who expressed his displeasure over the sign-stealing system by damaging the video monitor on two occasions, according to MLB's report.

"We've been friends for a long time," Roberts said. "I don't think it's personal."

The Dodgers followed back-to-back World Series appearances with a 106-win regular season in 2019, but lost to the Washington Nationals in the National League Division Series. The Dodgers, ousted by the eventual World Series champions in four straight postseasons, are still searching for their first title since 1988.

At the moment, they are poised to essentially return the same group in 2020. The biggest acquisition this offseason was probably Blake Treinen, a high-upside reliever trying to tap back into what he showed with the Oakland Athletics in 2018.

Treinen was a teammate of Fiers' with the A's, and he supports Fiers' decision to speak publicly about the Astros' sign stealing, which triggered all of the fallout.

"I respect Mike a lot," Treinen said. "And I think there's this idea that that's kind of normal across the league, what's happened. That's not normal. I don't think people have an idea of what's normal across the league.

"I respect him for what he said. What's worse? Him knowing about it and not saying anything about it to his teammates, or him going out there with an unfair advantage? Or saying something so that people know what's true?"