A.J. Hinch’s pitiful interview with MLB Network, where be took full responsibility for doing nothing to stop his players from cheating, didn’t help.
Hinch’s “I wish I had done more” refrain rings hollow in that he didn’t do anything. And it wouldn’t have taken much for him to put a stop to the scheme.
We’re talking about a sport where the manager spends more time meeting and talking to players and coaches than he does with anyone. Wife and kids included.
And all it would have taken for Hinch to have ended the sign stealing was to speak up in one team meeting. Had he done that, he would still be the Astros’ manager, their pedestal safe.
Instead, he is gone, and Monday, two days before pitchers and catchers report to spring training in West Palm Beach, Fla., former pitcher Mike Bolsinger filed a lawsuit alleging his career was collateral damage to the Astros’ 2017 sign-stealing operation.
As prepared as I was to be dismissive of the legal action, I am not about to trivialize Bolsinger’s potential pain.
While I had no issue ridiculing the Jets fan who sued the New England Patriots for the so-called “Spygate” videotaping of Jets coaches’ signals, this is different.
Bolsinger isn’t a fan. He was in the arena, faced with the challenge of victory or defeat, the last of which was tainted by the Astros’ cheating.
The lawsuit says Bolsinger “seeks the consequential and general damages he suffered and continues to suffer in the form of the Defendant Astros interfering with and harming his career.”
The last time Bolsinger pitched in a major league game, he faced eight batters and recorded only one out. The Astros posted four runs on four hits and three walks off Bolsinger on their way to a 16-7 win over the Blue Jays that August 2017 night at Minute Maid Park.
Bolsinger was one of three Toronto pitchers the Astros tagged in a nine-run fourth inning. Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa and George Springer didn’t even play in the rout.
We all know the Astros were aided that season with an illegal sign-stealing scheme they were using at the time they pounded Bolsinger.
While that was just one game of 180 for the Astros that season, including the playoffs, it was a game Bolsinger will never forget.
Who knows how many times he has replayed that final outing in his mind? It marked the end of his MLB career, the end of a lifelong dream.
The Astros are the monsters every time he relives that nightmare. Perhaps every time he looks at his page on baseball-reference.com, he is tormented by that horrific night, which is listed in his bio as his “last game.”
That doesn’t erase the possibility that this is all about money or change the fact the Astros’ sign stealing is not the reason Bolsinger didn’t make it in Major League Baseball.
Bolsinger’s claim might not be frivolous, but the basic assertion is quite the stretch. I mean, the Astros were hardly the only team to have blasted Bolsinger in his career.
His lawsuit states that for a “journeyman pitcher like him, a disastrous inning, such as what took place in Houston on August 4th, could and did prove to be the death knell to his career in the MLB.”
Depending on your definition, the lawsuit is incorrect in describing Bolsinger as a journeyman pitcher. Only three teams deemed him worthy of major league consideration, so he didn’t journey that much.
A 34th-round draft pick out of McKinney High School, just north of Dallas, Bolsinger chose to play at Arkansas and was then taken in the 33rd round in the 2009 draft. Dallas Keuchel, his college teammate with the Razorbacks and a member of the Astros’ 2017 roster, went in the seventh round of that same draft.
Bolsinger was a 15th-round selection in the 2010 draft and four years later made his major league debut with Arizona at 26 years old.
By 2017, Bolsinger was out of minor league options and a long shot to make the Blue Jays’ roster. He had a poor spring training in which he posted a 6.23 ERA in 13 innings, allowing nine runs on 18 hits and nine walks. The spring was capped by a final outing in which he retired only one batter and gave up three runs on five hits.
Bolsinger failed to earn a win in five starts (5.61 ERA), then was moved to the bullpen, where he had a 5.28 ERA before the Astros went to work on him. He finished with an overall ERA of 6.31.
But do you blame him for being upset that on the last day of his career, his opponents were cheating to earn an unfair advantage?
Jerome grew up in downtown Acres Homes, Texas. He is a proud graduate of Mabel B. Wesley Elementary and was a basketball team captain at Waltrip High School, where he helped the Mighty Rams to a near-.500 record.
A math genius and engineering major in college, he's still working on this writing thing. He says that the three years he spent as an F.M. Black Panther probably played a more significant a role in the man he would become than the time he spent in college.
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