Joe Kelly suspended eight games following altercation with Astros
Ryan Ladika (@RyanLadika)
July 30, 2020
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred warned that he wouldn’t mess around when it came to laying down the law, and he backed up the sentiment Wednesday afternoon.
During the opener of the Los Angeles Dodgers’ only trip to Houston this year, reliever Joe Kelly repeatedly came inside to Astros hitters amidst questionable command of his arsenal overall. Only seven of his 18 total pitches found the strike zone.
He threw behind Alex Bregman on a 3-0 count and came up and in to Carlos Correa before striking the shortstop out to end the bottom of the sixth inning. Kelly preceded to taunt Correa as he walked off the mound, and both benches cleared.
Kelly was suspended for eight games, and skipper Dave Roberts was slapped with a game as well. While no Astros players were disciplined, manager Dusty Baker was fined.
“It's really dangerous, really a dangerous undertaking,” Manfred said in a late February memo, according to a CBS Sports report. “And completely independent of the Astros investigation we will be issuing at the beginning of this week a memorandum on hit by pitches which will increase the ramifications of that type of behavior.”
Kelly is the first player to reap what he sowed, and players and fans alike aren’t happy with the suspension when it appears that, once again, the Astros evade punishment for the sign-stealing scandal that led the club to a 2017 World Series title.
“Makes zero sense Ken. He wasn’t even thrown out of the game,” Mets starter Marcus Stroman tweeted in response to a Ken Rosenthal tweet. “MLB siding with/protecting a team that openly and knowingly cheated their way to a World Series. He doesn’t deserve to be suspended at all. Hoping he wins his appeal.”
This was bound to happen eventually, and it was always going to be a bad look on Major League Baseball’s part to suspend a player for throwing at Astros players when no punishment was doled out to the Astros in the first place.
The fact of the matter is, MLB was woefully unprepared to deal with a cheating scandal of that proportion as it was happening, and was backed into the corner of granting immunity to the players in exchange for the whole story after the fact.
Kelly will likely appeal the suspension and may get a few games knocked off. Eight games in a season of only 60 translates to 22 out of a 162-game campaign, and there hasn’t been such precedent set in the past. The clearing of the benches cannot be forgotten either, as MLB explicitly stated that it would not be tolerated in the safety policies designed to combat COVID-19.
“Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions,” MLB stated in a June 29 press release.
But the reality of the situation is players will likely have to accept the fact that they will get hit with hefty fines and suspensions for apparent retaliation. Headhunting has never been tolerated, and while it doesn’t appear fair in the public eye to let the Astros off scot free, MLB cannot allow players to throw at the Astros players all season. Fans and players will have to put their hope in the new protocols MLB implemented to prevent this from happening again.