MLB suspended Joe Kelly for eight games after the incident with the Houston Astros.
Sorry, we needed some time to process this one. And we were too busy laughing at Houston Astros fans once again trying to accuse the New York Yankees of cheating to deflect blame from their earth-shattering scandal that has put a black eye on the sport.
But here we are once again. After MLB commissioner Rob Manfred opted not to suspend ANY Astros players for their role in the 2017 sign-stealing scandal that resulted in the franchise winning its first-ever World Series, he decided to hand down an eight-game ban to Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly for throwing at Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa.
On Tuesday night, Kelly threw behind Bregman on a 3-0 count and nearly beaned Correa with a curveball. After striking out Correa to end the inning and halt the Astros’ threat with runners on, Kelly taunted the slugger too, which caused the benches to clear.
He wasn’t thrown out of the game for his actions, yet Manfred suspended the Dodgers right-hander for what would be equivalent to 22 games in a full 162 slate. REGARDLESS if this ban is knocked down on appeal, it couldn’t be more tone-deaf. The most glaring aspect of this is that it’s drawn ire from plenty of players around the league.
Is that a commissioner who is fit to run this kind of an operation? Let’s not forget about the botched negotiations this offseason too, which fully fall on Manfred’s shoulders. The players weren’t happy about that either.
In any normal election cycle (if this were politics), unless Manfred’s hypothetical district was gerrymandered to consist of know-nothings of the highest rank, the man would be booted out of office after his first term. There’s no way around it.
His biggest goal has been trying to grow the game and gain a younger fan base, which has featured a bunch of unattractive rule changes (pitch clock, runner on second to start extras for 2020, three-batter minimum, terrible instant replay, etc.) and calling out the game’s biggest star in Mike Trout for “not marketing himself well enough.” Maybe the league should help with that?
But let’s not get too off track here and delve into his past failures and shortcomings. Manfred just sent the absolute wrong message to the entire league. He suspended zero Astros players for their role in the sign-stealing scandal, which was largely orchestrated by the team’s players.
Instead, it forced Houston to fire more tertiary figures in GM Jeff Luhnow and manager AJ Hinch … after the team’s pristine infrastructure was already put in place.
Now, we’re suspending relief pitchers for 13% of the season for throwing at batters, which has been commonplace in the sport for a century? Just for reference, Kelly intentionally hit and then fought Yankees slugger Tyler Austin two years ago … which resulted in a five-game suspension across a full slate of games.
The campaign against Rob Manfred already had momentum and legs. This decision has perhaps put it over the top. With players gaining more and more power as the years go on, don’t be surprised if they manage to oust the commissioner the first chance they get.