Many Major League Baseball players have repeatedly expressed their outrage with how the Astros fostered one of the biggest cheating scandals in baseball history, but one former pitcher is taking it a step further.
Former Blue Jay Mike 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, according to USA Today.
Bolsinger is suing for Houston to forfeit the roughly $31 million in bonuses from their now-tainted World Series title in 2017, when the Astros were confirmed to be using cameras to steal signs, and for it to be donated to charities in Los Angeles focused on bettering kids’ lives. He also proposes that the money could be used 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 the paper. “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.”
Bolsinger, who was drafted in the 15th round out of Arkansas in the 2010 MLB Draft and spent four-plus seasons in the minors before his major-league debut in 2014, blames a particular outing against the Astros for the derailment of his career.
In his first stretch as a reliever in 2017, Bolsinger gave up four runs, four hits and three walks in 1/3 of an inning against Houston on Aug. 4. Bolsinger, who was promptly sent back down to the minors after that game, hasn’t played a major-league game since.
“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.”
In the lawsuit, Bolsinger cited findings by the Astros fan who documented every instance of trash-can banging over the course of the 2017 season. He found that the most bangs took place in that Aug. 4, 2017 game, with the most bangs coming when Bolsinger was on the mound. The lawsuit says there were bangs on 12 of his 29 pitches that inning.
Bolsinger spent the rest of that season in Triple-A with a 1-0 record, a save and a 1.93 ERA. He was not included in Toronto’s September call-ups and he wasn’t given a new contract by the Blue Jays or any other team.
“I was an older guy. They had younger guys to call up,” said Bolsinger, who was 29 at the time. “Let’s say that [Astros game] doesn’t happen … I probably don’t get sent down. But at that point, they probably lost faith in me and were over it.”
In attempt to keep his baseball career afloat, Bolsinger went to play for Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan where he and his pregnant wife had no family. He recalled being afraid of not being able to help his wife, who was often alone, should she need medical attention for her pregnancy. The translator that Bolsinger used while with the team also lived roughly an hour away.
“It’s a different world. A different country, obviously,” he said. “To not have family around, or anyone around, it would just be me and her and our first kid, that was one of the most scary times in my life.”
The Astros went on to win the 2017 World Series and reap the benefits of their systemic cheating scheme. The only Houston player who faced any sort of repercussions was Carlos Beltran, who was fired from his new job as the Mets’ manager before appearing in single game.
Even though the organization was stripped of their first-and-second-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, and manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow were fired – as well Boston’s dismissal of Houston’s then bench coach Alex Cora – Bolsinger doesn’t think the league’s punishment fits the crime.
“And let’s be honest, all these guys are going to get managing jobs again,” Bolsinger said. “…Guys like us that were cheated? I don’t have a job. I’m not playing.”