Astros taunted

Heck­ler from out­side Petco chas­tises ‘cheaters’ dur­ing Game 4 so­lil­o­quy

The Morning Call - - Sports - By James Wag­ner

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.”

TIM KAN­TER/VIA NEW YORK TIMES

White Sox fan Tim Kan­ter, left, taunted the Astros from his apart­ment bal­cony across from Petco Park.

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