Do you remember accidentally tearing-off a scab from a deep wound that was not yet fully healed? Painful! Metaphorically, that is exactly what MLB did on July 29 when it suspended Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly eight games (the equivalent of 22 games in a normal 162 game season) for supposedly throwing pitches at Houston Astros hitters Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa, then mocking Correa with a pouty booboo face.
By penalizing Kelly beyond any reasonable standard, MLB instantly morphed Kelly from a relief pitcher with command issues into a cause célèbre for his non-Houston baseball cohorts and fans.
Outside the Astros organization, no one believes that MLB, and in particular commissioner Rob Manfred, had appropriately penalized the Astros players and organization for cheating their way into a World Championship in 2017, so Kelly’s perceived retaliation is being viewed by many as a partial payback.
Just a guess, but it would not be surprising if the Astros organization would rather Kelly had gone unpunished than reopening the cheating scandal wounds and rekindling the angst of players across all of baseball and fans around the country.
Dodgers outfielder A.J. Pollock summed it up nicely in his quotes to The Athletic on July 30:
“It (Kelly’s suspension) seemed very, very harsh. I don’t think anyone’s too happy about it,” Pollock said, grouping himself alongside his Dodgers teammates. “Pollock particularly questioned MLB commissioner Rob Manfred’s “feel” to punish a Dodger far more than any Astro involved in the sign-stealing scandal.
“You hope that teams are all being treated fairly, equally. I don’t know if he’s doing that,” added Pollock. “Most baseball guys that are true baseball guys, they would say that’s outrageous. I’m speaking for other people, but that’s just me coming from where the game’s been. It didn’t seem right to me, especially with what happened with the Astros. There have been no suspensions on that end. It’s just bizarre.”
Spot on, A.J.!
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