Dodgers finally get sweet revenge on Astros

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Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The roaring of angry fans filled Dodger Stadium. The shouts of “cheaters” and a cacophony of boos that could be heard loudly rained down on Houston players during warmups prior to the game. Hours before the game, a contingent of fans gathered outside the stadium to yell and bang trash cans as the team buses carrying the Astros players pulled into the stadium.

Houston, we had a problem.

About 53,000 people showed up to Chavez Ravine on Tuesday night to savagely heckle the Houston Astros for the first time in person since their World Series cheating scandal was revealed. With the Astros in town, the fans didn’t hold back. They let them have it. All of them. This is the night that every Dodgers fan has been waiting for since the Astros found themselves entangled in a sign-stealing, trash can-banging scheme that put a massive asterisk on their 2017 title. There was no greater joy than getting a little taste of revenge against the Astros in the series opener. Motivation came easy when playing the team that cheated you out of the 2017 World Series title and got away with it. 

Inflatable trash cans bounced along the crowded seats as if they were beach balls and came flying onto the field. Batting practice balls and foul balls hit by the Astros littered the field. There was nothing nuttier and wilder this week than the sight of a sellout crowd vociferously booing and jeering Houston players. In the Astros’ return to Dodger Stadium, the ugly side of the Dodgers fan base emerged and it was rather expected. And finally, in the aftermath of the report detailing the Astros’ cheating operation, Houston came back to Los Angeles and received a poor reception from the largest and angriest crowd.

The fans had an outlet to unload their frustration and gain closure from the past. The booing started to grow louder when Jose Altuve stepped up to the plate. The clamorous fans mocked him, and serenaded him with endless, loud chants of “cheater.” A rowdy bunch saw it as an opportunity to taunt an arrogant Carlos Correa with profane chants and jeers every time he came up for his at-bats. And when the moment came, Altuve was made an obvious and easy target of vitriol from those who spewed insults from their mouths about the little guy. He seems to have fully embraced his role as baseball’s villain, and responded with a line-drive to center to lead off the game before Michael Brantley grounded into a double play. 

Correa, the worst one of all, came off as arrogant, showed no remorse for his actions and truly feels the Astros earned the championship. He got booed in pregame introductions, booed heartily when he stepped into the on-deck circle, and booed even louder when he walked into the batter’s box. But never mind that—because all the commotion didn’t seem to bother him, perhaps because he’s already used to that kind of treatment.

The animosity, it seemed, never dissipated. None of it seemed to fret right-hander Lance McCullers Jr. either. That’s because he enjoys playing in a hostile environment and responds in a way that quiets the crowd. He held the Dodgers to four singles while striking out nine batters in 6 2/3 scoreless innings to lead the Astros to a 3-0 win. The starting rotation has buoyed the Dodgers all season, and their reliable arm, in particular, who has looked fantastic is Walker Buehler. He allowed just one run on five hits, but he lost his focus at times and walked three.  

The Dodgers took a game off, but the fans showed up in full force to take out their negative feelings on the five remaining Astros from that 2017 team. It wasn’t Game 7 of the World Series, but it felt like it. That’s all great, but it was a quiet night for the Dodgers’ bats after going hitless in eight at-bats with runners in scoring position. The crowd’s energy was incredible, and with the fans going bonkers, a loss felt more like a victory. 

It was November 1, 2017, the last time the Astros played in front of fans at Dodger Stadium. The COVID-19 pandemic put the brakes on the baseball season and when the season finally started, it was played in an empty stadium. It was an unprecedented season created by peculiar and favorable circumstances, but it wasn’t as though the Astros could still run and hide. There are so many people who waited for a chance to sound off and give full vent to their rage, regardless of how long they had to wait. 

The Astros dodged a bullet by not having to face the fans last season. Then, after a short pause, it went back to normal, the Dodgers welcomed crowds again at full capacity, and the feisty fans showed up to remind those trophy thieves that they haven’t forgotten about what happened in 2017. Sign-stealing in baseball is a hot-button issue, mainly because you have teams like the Astros who try to use illegal means to gain an edge on competition. They engaged in blatant fraud, tomfoolery and even shenanigans that robbed the Dodgers of that chance to win a title that year. And so the vast majority around here feel antagonistic towards the Astros.

Indeed the fans had a right to lose their damn minds after the Dodgers’ World Series championship was stolen from them. STOLEN! A crime had been committed in Los Angeles, and the Astros’ penalties were not harsh enough. The Astros got some pretty rough treatment from thousands of blue-clad fans who showed more guts than MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred. They know now that their actions and motive were wrong, and the players who perpetrated devious acts of fraud are finally facing real consequences after the findings of the investigation and punishments handed down. There’s never perhaps been a team so despised by the world like the Astros. And what should be obvious now is that fans still have not forgiven them.

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