Did Dodgers really get cheated by Fernando Tatis Jr.?
By Adam Weinrib
The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres played yet another tight series (in what’s sure to be a long line of them) this weekend, but on Monday morning, the focus was not on LA’s series loss.
Nor was it centered on the Dodgers bullpen’s blown 7-1 lead, or Kenley Jansen’s dominant ninth on Saturday, or Joe Musgrove looking mortal in the early innings of the finale.
No, most of the chatter was about the sole game the Dodgers actually won in the series, featuring two Fernando Tatis Jr. home runs, a Trevor Bauer soliloquy about the sanctity of celebrations, and somehow Bauer inviting Tatis Jr. to call him daddy.
A widely-circulated video clip of the at-bat in which Tatis went yard for the second time came to define Saturday’s contest. In it, you can see the slugger take the quickest look back at Dodgers catcher Will Smith before sitting on a breaking ball in the opposite batter’s box and flipping it out over the wall.
So, were the Dodgers “cheated”? Is this gamesmanship or something dirtier? And who’s to blame?
Well, the answers vary. If you’re a Dodgers fan — or a writer! — you’re liable to blame Tatis Jr., creating another reason to despise his exuberance.
If you’re Bill Plaschke, you might even equate this peek to the 2017 Houston Astros’ intricately-designed cheating scandal, though we’re not sure why.
Did the Dodgers get cheated by Fernando Tatis Jr.?
Plaschke’s dramatic writing certainly … set a specific tone for this discussion, to say the least.
His lede describing Saturday’s events and how the Dodgers got no revenge for Tatis Jr.’s actions on Sunday reads as if the team experienced a midnight break-in and got their playbooks and trophies stolen.
"“The home nine arrived at Chavez Ravine on Sunday afternoon as victims of a theft so blatant it should have rattled them to their blue bones.“In a video that surfaced after the Dodgers’ Saturday night victory here over San Diego, it was clear that the Padres’ Fernando Tatis Jr. had sneaked a peek at catcher Will Smith’s positioning just before hitting his second home run of the game.“Yeah, the organization that was cheated out of the 2017 World Series championship by the Houston Astros once again had been robbed, embarrassed and played for fools.“What to do, then, on Sunday?”"
Of course, the Dodgers then proceeded to do nothing, inflating Tatis’ sails by breaking wind and blowing a six-run lead, but that’s beside the point.
Did Tatis Jr. break an unwritten rule? Only slightly. A written rule, like the Astros? Absolutely not.
In fact, of the catchers surveyed by Ken Rosenthal (paywall), the consensus seemed to be that Smith should share the blame for getting outfoxed.
At the very least, Bauer overreacted a bit, and this should’ve been a non-story in what was otherwise a Dodgers win.
In any year prior to 2013, we probably never would’ve heard about this ever again. The broadcast wouldn’t have circled back. The firestorm of commentary never would’ve ignited. We never would’ve known who was intended to be whose daddy.
Instead, we got a legendary Plaschke column out of the whole thing, though. So we might be the real winners here.