Ex-Dodgers pitcher files lawsuit against Astros, wants them to forfeit $31M

Mike Bolsinger, a former big-league pitcher who spent time with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Toronto Blue Jays and Arizona Diamondbacks, filed a lawsuit Monday against the Houston Astros for “unfair business practices” and is asking that the Astros forfeit the nearly $31 million they earned by winning the World Series during the season they cheated.

Bolsinger himself also feels specifically wronged by the Astros, since he was sent to the minors in 2017 after getting pounded by Astros hitters at the height of their sign-stealing scheme. He never made it back to the big leagues after that.

Nancy Armour of USA Today has the details on the lawsuit and talked to Bolsinger about it:

Bolsinger filed a civil lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, accusing the Astros of unfair business practices, negligence and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations.

Yes, Bolsinger is seeking unspecified damages, but they’re not all for himself. He wants the Astros to forfeit the roughly $31 million in bonuses from their ill-gotten World Series title, and for the money to go to charities in Los Angeles focused on bettering kids’ lives, as well as to create a fund for retired baseball players who need financial assistance.

“There’s a message to be sent to youth out there. Especially athletes, more specifically baseball players,” Bolsinger told USA TODAY Sports. “It was awesome to (grow up and) watch game played the right way. We’ve kind of drifted from that. It’s something we can really express to these kids: You don’t have to cheat to get to where you want to go. This kind of stuff doesn’t need to happen.”

Part of Bolsinger’s case hinges on the research done by Astros fan Tony Adams, who listened to every pitch Astros hitters faced at home in 2017 and counted all the trash-can bangs the team used to signal which pitches were coming. The Astros’ system involved using a spreadsheet dubbed Codebreaker with an algorithm that could figure out opposing teams’ signs. Then they used a video camera in the outfield to show live game footage near the dugout. Once the Astros players knew what pitches were coming, they’d bang on a trash can to signal that a pitcher was throwing a breaking ball.

A former MLB pitcher has filed a lawsuit against the Astros. (Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
A former MLB pitcher has filed a lawsuit against the Astros. (Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Adams’ research showed that the Astros banged on the trash can 54 times during an Aug. 4 game against the Blue Jays in which Bolsinger pitched. That was the most bangs of the season for the Astros. It was also a particularly bad outing for Bolsinger, who gave up four runs on four hits and only got one out against the Astros that day.

He told USA Today:

“I don’t know if I’ve had a worse outing in my professional career,” Bolsinger said. “I remember saying, 'It was like they knew what I was throwing. They’re laying off pitches they weren’t laying off before. It’s like they knew what was coming.’ That was the thought in my head. I felt like I didn’t have a chance.”

Bolsinger was sent to Triple-A after that game and never called up to the big leagues again. After the season, no team was interested in signing him, so he played in Japan in 2018, where he was 13-2 with a 3.38 ERA. Bolsinger, now 32, pitched in Japan in 2019 as well, but had a 4.42 ERA.

Bolsinger told USA Today that part of the reason for the lawsuit was that players like him were cheated by the Astros too.

“I don’t think the punishment has fit the crime,” he said. “And let’s be honest, all these guys are going to get managing jobs again. … Guys like us that were cheated? I don’t have a job. I’m not playing.”

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