Fans will not be allowed at Dodger Stadium to jeer the Houston Astros in person Saturday and Sunday, but the plan for some is to communicate their feelings in other ways before the Astros’ first games in Los Angeles since their cheating scandal rocked the major leagues.
Weather permitting, airplanes will fly over Dodger Stadium on Sunday with banners directed at the Astros. At least two different banners, bankrolled by separate crowdfunding efforts, are scheduled to fly.
David Yontz, a Dodgers fan from Georgia, started a GoFundMe page to raise the $850 to pay for one of them. Yontz said he would donate any extra money raised to charities associated with the Dodgers. As of Saturday morning, the fundraiser had totaled $934.
“Everything with the 2017 series hurt, even without the cheating and then you add the cheating and it just really hurt,” Yontz said. “And I think part of the hurt continues because there wasn’t really any closure because, in my opinion, Commissioner Manfred’s punishment was practically nonexistent.”
Yontz got help spreading the word from Brendan Donley, the man from western Michigan behind the 2020 Astros Shame Tour Twitter account. Donley tweeted the information out to his 310,000 followers and ran a poll to decide the banner’s message.
That banner will be succinct: STEAL THIS SIGN, ASTROS.
Donley said his commitment to regularly unload on Twitter about the Astros — made easier by the team’s struggles this season — was fueled by Major League Baseball’s decision to not punish players involved in the cheating scheme.
“Tragedy would be too strong of a word, obviously, but travesty maybe is the word or just a mockery of baseball justice,” said Donley, who started the Twitter account in early February.
Two other Dodgers fans — Nathan Nguyen and Meredith Kendrick — partnered for another banner. They surpassed their goal of $1,725 on GoFundMe for the cost — the total reached $1,870 from 89 donors as of Saturday — and will donate the extra money for the Dodgers Foundation.
Their message is a little longer: “HEY ASTR*S, TRY STEALING THIS SIGN!”
Fly Signs Aerial Advertising was to fly a banner Saturday and Yontz’s banner Sunday. But Justin Jaye, the company’s owner, said Saturday’s flight wouldn’t be allowed because of the region’s poor air quality and low visibility. Jaye said Friday he had 15 flights grounded in the previous five days.
The plan Sunday is for the planes to fly over the ballpark while the Astros take batting practice. A flight restriction over the stadium goes into effect at 4:05 p.m., an hour before the game’s scheduled first pitch.
A group of fans gathered outside a Dodger Stadium gate Saturday morning to boo the Astros team bus as it entered. Meanwhile, about 10 minutes away, a mural of Joe Kelly making the pouty face he gave Astros shortstop Carlos Correa before benches cleared in the clubs’ first meeting this season has become an attraction for fans this week. Kelly visited the mural, which is painted on the side of a barbershop, with his family Thursday.