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The Case of Joe Kelly and his Suspension

Joe Kelly was suspended…but is it fair or justified???

Joe Kelly was recently suspended by Major League Baseball for eight games, amidst major controversy. The suspension came after Kelly, a pitcher for the Los Angeles Dodgers, threw a wild pitch that almost hit Alex Bregman and then he taunted Carlos Correa after a strikeout. Well, it wasn’t exactly that simple, which makes the suspension so controversial.

Backstory

Going into the game, tensions were already high, as the Houston Astros were accused of cheating in the 2017 MLB Season. During that season, the Astros managed to make it all the way to the World Series, defeating the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games. However, in the years that passed since their World Series, multiple allegations have come out against the team stating that the Astros were involved in an electronic sign-stealing scheme that involved cameras positioned in center field to steal signs from the opposing catchers and the striking of trash cans to relay the signals that catchers were signaling to the opposing pitchers.

Side Note: Now while Joe Kelly wasn’t on the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers squad that lost to the Astros, he was on the Boston Red Sox team that lost to the Dodgers. 

While it’s not known for sure whether or not the allegations are true, there’s some pretty insurmountable evidence against the Astros that these interactions occurred and the video below certainly seems to confirm the allegations.

The Plays that led to the Suspension

In the 6th inning of the Dodgers-Astros game on July 28, Joe Kelly struggled to find his control. His fastball was all over the place, and he couldn’t really seem to find the zone. Frankly, while Joe Kelly has some electric pitches, he does struggle with his control, and just over the past offseason broke the window of his own house. 

 

 

In the at-bat to Alex Bregman, Kelly couldn’t find the zone, and he missed the zone badly on three straight fastballs. On a 3-0 count Kelly loaded up and 96 mph fastball behind Alex Bregman’s head, not necessarily that close but close enough to scare Alex Bregman, who dropped his bat and ducked and had a wide-eye look that was oddly synonymous with the deer in the headlights. (WARNING EXPLICIT LANGUAGE USED)

 

 

Kelly’s struggles with the fastballs continued and while he did manage to get outs off of his secondary pitches, the fastball remained a thorn in Kelly’s side and he couldn’t get control of it. Later in the inning, Kelly managed to get Carlos Correa to strike out, and he felt pretty good about himself while doing it. He had some words for Correa as he walked off the mound, pouting at Correa and telling him, “Nice swing B****”. Correa took offense, and while the benches cleared for both teams, no physical contact was initiated and it was a relatively socially-distant spat. 

The consequences

Major League Baseball came down with a heavy hand on Kelly, issuing him an eight game suspension (13 percent of a 60 game season) citing his past incidents and referencing the no “open season rule” that Rob Manfred proclaimed recently, warning players that there would be heavy consequences for seeking retaliation against the Astros. The decision was met with a heavy backlash, even spawning a #freejoekelly on twitter that trended over the past week. Many people were outraged that Major League Baseball chose to suspend Joe Kelly for essentially taunting a player and throwing a wild pitch, while a Major League Baseball team cheated and illegitimately won a championship. Not only has the team been allowed to keep the championship but none of the team members have been suspended for their acts in the cheating scandal.

Marcus Stroman, pitcher for the New York Mets said on Twitter in response to the suspension, “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. Looking forward to seeing you back out there JK!”

Many other former and current players critizes the MLB like Jarad Weaver, who proclaimed..”8 games! What a joke.. @mlb is so soft anymore it’s kinda embarrassing.. people should just keep cheating because apparently there is 0 game suspensions for that.”

Should Kelly have been suspended?

While what Kelly did wasn’t good sportsmanship (but wasn’t necessarily “wrong”), what he did seems to pale into the comparison of what the Astros did. It certainly doesn’t seem to warrant a suspension, especially when he wasn’t even thrown out of the game by the umpires. And when Major League Baseball turns a blind eye to improper conduct, others are bound to take matters into their own hands. Major League Baseball had the opportunity to do the right thing and strip the Astros of their 2017 title, and suspend the players. By not doing so, they’ve left the door wide open for vigilante justice, and while Kelly didn’t explicitly engage in that activity, someone else may do so and they would be justified whether their actions are justified or not.

Major League Baseball wants to give the Astros their cake and eat it too by granting them immunity and allowing them to keep their World Series title, while telling other teams to “not punish them”. Other teams shouldn’t and likely wouldn’t “punish” them if the right punishment was handed down, but by turning a blind eye to the aggressor and reprimanding the victims, the executives at Major League Baseball have irritated many people and the feelings of these people will boil over sooner or later. 

 Clearly the executives in Major League Baseball reside in a fantasy world where people forgive and forget. Unfortunately, when a team cheats their way past the honest efforts of so many hard-working athletes to capture one of the most coveted titles in the world, those feelings don’t go away lightly. Many people (and players) view that as disrespectful and as the great Tee Grizzley put it, “ain’t no disrespect without retaliation”. If Major League Baseball wants to hand punishments out, a good place to start might be with the people that unjustly won a championship, not the player who threw a wild pitch and made a pouty face after a strikeout.

 

If you haven’t read my (ironically) first article that I posted on the Houston Astros, not getting a punishment  you can do so here: https://thegamehaus.com/mlb/do-the-houston-astros-get-a-free-pass/2020/07/01/

 

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