Culture / Sporting Life

Orel Hershiser’s Cheap Shot Jabs at Jose Altuve Prove That Astros Still Own Space in Dodgers’ Heads

Dusty Baker's Team Shows Extreme Heart Early in Challenging Season, While LA Lets Those October Demons Fester

BY // 08.02.20

The LA Dodgers are like Taylor Swift penning a breakup song. They just cannot get over it. Only, their complaints are anything but artful. Orel Hershiser’s cheap shots at Jose Altuve are just the latest proof that the Houston Astros will forever own space in the Dodgers’ collective heads.

“Guessing is harder than knowing,” Hershiser quips on the LA TV broadcast after Jose Altuve strikes out looking during one of the Dodgers-Astros games last week.

The Dodgers won both regular season games against the Astros, but Hershiser’s tired reference to the Astros’ sign stealing scandal shows that the entire LA organization — the richest and most advantaged in all of baseball — is no closer to getting a grip. Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly lost his mind, went head hunting — and then lost eight games (and nearly $400,000 in salary) to suspension. Hershiser, who once threw 59 scoreless innings and built a winning rep, lost his class in taking needless jabs at Altuve, a former MVP. Hershiser only makes himself look petty.

And so the great Dodgers whine goes.

The Astros simply moved onto Anaheim and showed all of their heart in somehow winning a series with their pitching staff practically in taters. Out scraping the Angels 6-5 in 11 innings on Sunday is the latest example of the incredible resolve that’s marked these championship era Astros. The sign stealing may have helped in 2017, but these Astros of Jose Altuve, George Springer and Alex Bregman have also always shown an intense fortitude.

With their pitching seemingly less put together than Humpty Dumpty, with their ace Justin Verlander and their closer Roberto Osuna both out, the Astros still find a way in California.

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“Boy, we’re all tired,” Astros manager Dusty Baker says on a Zoom conference with reporters after his stitched-together team plays its third four-hour-plus game in its last four outings.

Tired — and tough.

Hershiser Misses the Winning October Point

Baker’s team is somehow 5-4 going into its second road series of this 60-game season. The Astros are one of six American League teams with a winning record, which is likely all you need to be assured a playoff spot in this bizarro world season’s 16-team postseason. Oh, the always exceedingly deep Dodgers are sitting pretty themselves record wise with a 7-3 mark.

Of course,  no one ever questioned LA’s ability to win in July or August. No one ever doubted the Los Angeles Dodgers ability to beat the Houston Astros when the stakes are relatively modest. The Dodgers are the absolute kings of medium pressure situations, dominators of regular seasons. Cody Bellinger and Co. are experts at winning piles and piles of games before the calendar flips to October.

Do you really think the Dodgers appear anymore mentally ready for October after Kelly’s head hunting theatrics and Hershiser’s cheap shots? This is an organization still caught up in the small stuff. Slights R Us.

Houston Astros vs. Seattle Mariners. Lance McCullers pitches 2nd game of 2020 season a Minute Maid Park
Houston Astros manager Dusty Baker does not need to answer Orel Hershiser. (Photo by F. Carter Smith)

Meanwhile, the Astros are showing more fight than talent. These 2020 Astros may be the anti-Dodgers. When Kyle Tucker struck out looking at a pitch in the 12th inning of an eventual 4-2 loss to Dodgers, the former super prospect took it hard. Tucker crouched down in his outfield position before the start of the 13th, clearly still agonizing over the at-bat. In the Astros’ next game, Tucker racked up three hits and drove in four runs in a Houston win.

That takes heart — and resolve (along with Tucker’s exceptional talents). So does hitting clutch home runs with your swing anything but sound at the moment, which both George Springer and Alex Bregman did this weekend.

Springer saw his average deep under the .050 mark when he struck out with the potential winning run on third base in the bottom of the 11th in that Dodgers finale. He’s up to .182 now with seven RBI, still fighting.

That is what these Astros do. Yes, Jim Crane did not endear the Astros to anyone when he attempted to re-legistrate the sign stealing scandal in an interview with USA Today. Is the Astros owner technically right when he points out that the Red Sox and Yankees largely got away with their own sign stealing while “we took the bullet”? Yes. Is anyone in the world outside of Houston open to hearing it? No.

Sometimes you just need to know when to move on. Crane’s players largely have done that. The Dodgers — all the way up to their TV booth — clearly have not.

There is a global pandemic raging — and baseball itself seems to be in some danger of shutting down any day now. There are plenty of real present day problems to worry about. Instead, the Dodgers let the Astros occupy their heads.

There is mentally strong and then there’s mentally fragile. The more things change with the Astros and Dodgers, the more this overriding truth seems to remain the same.

Orel Hershiser should know better. Sometimes the guy who thinks he’s being tough is really everybody’s weak-minded fool.

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