Heckler from outside Petco chastises ‘cheaters’ during Game 4 soliloquy
SAN DIEGO — It was in the fourth inning that a lone voice broke through the music and artificial crowd noise at Petco Park.
“Attention: Members of the Houston Astros organization that participated in the sign-stealing scandal of 2017 and 2018,” a man’s voice said through what sounded like a megaphone. “You all are a bunch of cheaters. The global baseball community has not forgotten your transgressions against the game.”
Yes, fans are still going to great lengths to publicly chastise the Astros for their cheating scheme, revealed last winter. With no fans at the stadium Wednesday night for Game 4 of the American League Championship Series between the Astros and the Rays, the voice coming from somewhere beyond the outfield could be heard loud and clear, listing each Astros player left on the roster from those seasons.
“Jose Altuve: You are a cheater, shame on you,” the man said. “Carlos Correa: You are a cheater, shame on you.”
For about 30 seconds in the Astros’ 4-3 win, Tim Kanter had done something many fans wished they could: Tell the players who won the 2017 World Series to their faces — or backs, to be more precise — how they felt.
“If this had been a normal year without COVID, then the Astros would have heard this hundreds of times by now,” Kanter said.
Kanter, 30, is a Chicago native and White Sox fan who has lived in San Diego for several years. He works at a software company in one of the buildings that overlook Petco Park, and the balcony has an enviable view of the field.
So when the Astros were on the verge of advancing to the ALCS, Kanter concocted a plan and shared it with friends: He would find a megaphone loud enough to be heard on the field from the balcony and read a prepared statement to the Astros. His friends pitched in to help buy the $200 device.
“My math teacher would be proud of me,” Kanter said. “I used the Pythagorean theorem to calculate the distance from the balcony to home plate. It’s about 700 feet.”
With the Astros leading, 2-0, in the top of the fourth inning, Kanter calmly read his message. Altuve, the second baseman, turned to look briefly beyond the outfield, perhaps wondering where the voice was coming from. Astros outfielder George Springer said after the game that he had not heard a heckler, but others in the stadium certainly noticed.
After naming the Astros one by one, Kanter also had a message for Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball. Even though the Astros and three officials were penalized by MLB, Manfred granted players immunity to cooperate with the investigation — a move that was roundly criticized.
Kanter found this unsatisfactory, pointing to punishments for non-Astros players such as Joe Kelly of the Dodgers, who fired a pitch behind the Astros’ Alex Bregman and taunted Correa during a game earlier this year.
“We condemn Rob Manfred’s unwillingness to hold players accountable for bringing shame to our beautiful sport,” Kanter said over the megaphone. “Remember: Cheating is wrong. Please do not cheat.”
Headded in a phone interview after the game: “I thought it was a big enough stage to get that point across and hopefully just drive home that point because the apologies that the Astros have offered up to this point have been unimpressive, and also about the lack of any sort of punishment to the players directly.”
White Sox fan Tim Kanter, left, taunted the Astros from his apartment balcony across from Petco Park.