SAN FRANCISCO — There’s no chance that the Giants were banging on trash cans, or doing something similarly nefarious, while the Houston Astros were cheating their way through the 2017 season. They averaged under four runs per game at Oracle Park that year.
But one prominent member of the organization does have ties to the story that dominated the offseason. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was the Dodgers’ general manager in 2017 when they lost the World Series to the Astros.
There’s a chance Zaidi lost out on a ring because of the scandal, but on Thursday, speaking to reporters for the first time since MLB handed down punishments and the Astros fired their GM and manager, Zaidi said he is not bitter. He said he hasn’t thought much about how he was personally impacted.
"I think the impact of that activity can be a little overstated," Zaidi said of the cheating. "I think it's going to be interesting now, when people have video and people are going to break down a lot kind of statistically, of when things supposedly happened and not. It'll just be interesting to see what comes out of that.
"I think even when you talk to players there's a real difference of opinion on what kind of impact it has. It's clear what is within the rules and isn't within the rules, but things that aren't within the rules, it's not clear how impactful those things are and how much they can affect the outcome of games. Everybody has their opinion on that. That's always been a question of mine. I know a lot of other people share that skepticism."
Nobody will ever quite know what would have happened if the Astros had played it straight. Regardless of what they were doing in the sign-stealing department, they had a talented roster, one that beat the Dodgers in seven games in a wildly thrilling series. There's bitterness in Los Angeles, and rightfully so, but for the rival Giants, it was more a learning experience. Zaidi said it was a reminder for the organization of how things must be done and monitored.
"It's sort of inherently our responsibility, but it probably makes you double down on your vigilance about it," Zaidi said. "I think that's one thing that came out of the report. The field manager, the people in baseball operations -- you're not in the clubhouse 24-7 -- but ultimately what happens there is your responsibility. I think around the game, the people in those positions of leadership understand that that's their responsibility."
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Zaidi said he feels the scandal coming out -- largely because pitcher Mike Fiers spoke to The Athletic -- will ultimately be good for the game, noting that some issues have been addressed as an industry.
"I think it's natural for teams to sort of look for every advantage and that's what was obviously a motivating factor," Zaidi said. "I think it's a little more clear now (and) it's a lot more clear going forward what the lines are."