The Fight Over the Houston Astros’ Sign-Stealing Scandal Isn’t Finished
The Houston Astros lost draft picks, their manager, and their general manager in the scandal over stealing signs during MLB games. Commissioner Rob Manfred also fined the team $5 million.
But that did not placate everyone. Now, already rejected once after filing a civil suit, Mike Bolsinger may have come up with an ingenious way of finally getting his day in court.
Mike Bolsinger was a journeyman pitcher
The Cleveland Indians picked Mike Bolsinger in the 34th round of the 2006 draft, but he opted for college and signed in 2010 with the Arizona Diamondback, who selected him in the 15th round. The right-hander worked his way through the Diamondbacks’ system and arrived in the big leagues in 2014.
Arizona traded him to the Los Angeles Dodgers after the season to start a pattern of Bolsinger splitting time each year between the majors and Triple-A ball, first with the Dodgers and then the Toronto Blue Jays after another trade in 2016.
Until recently, Bolsinger’s claim to fame was striking out four Boston Red Sox batters in the 13th inning of a game in which Hanley Ramirez tagged him with a walk-off home run two innings later.
Bolsinger hasn’t pitched in the United States since the 2017 season, finishing with an 8-19 career record and a 4.92 ERA. Though he didn’t catch on with another club after the Blue Jays released him, Bolsinger found some success in Japan beginning in 2018.
A disastrous night against the Astros finished him off
Bolsinger’s 48th and final MLB outing came on Aug. 4, 2017, in Houston, where the Astros teed off on him. Bolsinger surrendered three walks and four earned runs in one-third of an inning in relief. The Jays designated him for assignment the next day.
“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,’” Bolsinger said, according to USA Today.
Details of an MLB investigation released in January 2020 suggest that Bolsinger’s assessment was spot-on. The commissioner’s office determined that the Astros had used video feeds to steal signs during the 2017 and 2018 seasons, relaying information to their batters by banging on a garbage can in the dugout tunnel.
The Astros are facing a new lawsuit
Bolsinger is now 33 years old, and the chances of him returning to organized ball stateside and MLB’s lucrative salaries are remote. He filed a civil lawsuit against the Astros, claiming the team was guilty of unfair business practices, negligence, and intentional interference with contractual and economic relations. He sought unspecified damages and wanted the Astros to forfeit their playoff shares from the 2017 season.
The Houston Chronicle reported that a Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the lawsuit in March. In part, the ruling cited filing the case in California as a ploy to sway jurors who were potentially fans of the LA Dodgers, the team the Astros defeated in the 2017 World Series.
Now, however, Bolsinger has refiled his lawsuit, this time in Harris County District Court in Texas. It’s possible this attempt won’t go any better than the first try, but one has to love the resourcefulness.
Bolsinger contends that the signs that teams use in games are trade secrets protected by Texas’ Uniform Trade Secrets Act. The suit lists only the Astros as defendants and asks for more than $1 million in damages.
“The owners of these trade secrets had taken the reasonable measures customary in the baseball industry to keep the signs secret,” Bolsinger’s suit asserts.
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