As far as many fans are concerned, there is nothing that can happen for the rest of the Major League Baseball season that will top Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly’s glorious confrontation with the Houston Astros on July 29.
While Kelly ended up receiving a whopping eight game suspension (the equivalent of 22 games in a full 162 game season) for instigating the benches being cleared after throwing at two Astros hitters, it was something that was not only bound to happen, it had to be done.
The reason it had to be done is 100 percent because of how Major League Baseball’s spineless commissioner Rob Manfred mishandled the Astros’ sign-stealing scandal, not suspending a single player for cheating their way to the 2007 World Series title.
Because of Manfred’s unwillingness to punish any of the Astros players, by default he left it up to players on other teams to do some policing of their own, all while saying he would punish those who went after the cheaters. Ironic, considering none of the Astros players were suspended for even one game.
It was for that reason and others that Kelly, whose suspension was reduced to five games on Wednesday after his appeal, says he did what he did during an appearance on The Big Swing podcast with his teammate Ross Stripling.
“The people who took the fall for what happened is nonsense,” Kelly told Stripling. “Yes, everyone is involved. But the way that was run over there was not from coaching staff.
“They’re not the head boss in charge of that thing. It’s the players,” he continued. “So now the players get the immunity, and all they do is go snitch like a little bitch, and they don’t have to get fined, they don’t have to lose games.”
Another reason Kelly is upset with the Astros players who cheated is that they ended up costing people their jobs.
“When you take someone’s livelihood … to save your own ass, that’s what I don’t like,” said Kelly. “Cheating? They cheated. Everyone knows they’re cheaters. They know they’re cheaters. It’s over. That’s been there, done that. But now they mess it up by ruining other people’s lives, so they f—ed it up twice. … When you taint someone’s name to save your own name, this is one of the worst things that you could probably do. … That really friggin’ bugs me. I think I’ll be irritated forever.”
Kelly is also angry that someone he respects, former Astros bench coach Alex Cora had to be one of the people to take the fall for what he believes was a player run cheating system.
“Maybe they have called [Cora] and said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry.’ Or called Luhnow and said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry.’ Or called Hinch, and Beltran. … If they had said, ‘Hey, I’m super scared, I didn’t know what to do, I didn’t want to lose money, I had to rat.’ … Grow a pair of balls and say that.”
He also shared his thoughts about his lengthy suspension, calling the idea that he instigated the Astros leaving their dugout “completely bullsh*t.”
“I socially distanced. I walked away. I didn’t get close, and I followed all the guidelines of the CDC, and people on the other side (the Astros) didn’t,” said Kelly. “… They walked out of their dugout, walked toward us. Carlos Correa f—ing spit at our team. I don’t know if it was [at] me. He spit out of his mouth. … This guy walks over to our dugout and then spits, while I follow all the rules, and I get eight games.
“They have a manager [Dusty Baker] on their side, verbatim, yelling at me, ‘Get your little skinny ass on the mound.’ So my cuss words get eight games, and his cuss words get zero? That makes complete sense, right? Welcome to planet earth. A debacle.”
As for the classic boo-hoo face he gave Carlos Correa and the Astros as he walked off the field?
“When Carlos was tripping back at me,” said Kelly, “the boo-hoo face felt right, because it just sounded like he was complaining. I was like, ‘Ohhhh, boo-hoo.’ For me, it sounded like a bunch of whining, and I know exactly what my wife feels like.
“It just felt right in the moment. It was spur of the moment; it’s not like you game-plan for that kind of thing. … It was my interpretation of him acting like a child at that point, and I wanted to give him a little child’s face.”