This is what Dodger stadium looked like during the 2017 season when fans were allowed and the team was cheated out of a World Series at the hands of the Houston Astros. Photo by Martin Péchy on Unsplash.”
By Jeremy Gonzalez, Sports Editor
The Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros met in the regular season for a two-game series that started on July 28, the first meeting between the two teams since the league-shattering news broke of the Astros cheating scandal involving sign stealing by using trash cans back in 2017. Houston went on to win the World Series that year in seven games over the Dodgers.
All eyes were on the 2017 World Series rematch as baseball analysts and fans wondered if bad blood and feelings would spill onto the field.
In the first game of the series, Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly delivered a 96 mph fastball that flew behind the head of Alex Bregman in the sixth inning. Moments later, Kelly mocked Carlos Correa with a pouty face after he struck out Correa and the pair exchanged some words, prompting both benches to clear, offering a glimpse of the tension that still lingers between these two teams.
Kelly denied any intention to hit players with his pitches after the Dodgers’ 5-2 victory at Minute Maid Park in Houston. No punches were thrown during the scuffle and a warning was issued to both teams, but that’s as far as it went.
The very next day, Major League Baseball handed Kelly an eight-game suspension for his role in the bench-clearing incident. Under the 60-game format, an eight-game suspension would have accounted for 13% of the schedule. Kelly appealed the suspension and had it reduced to five games instead of the original eight games and will serve it when he returns from the 10-day injured list.
Did Kelly deserve this suspension for his actions that led to the benches clearing in the Astros series? There’s only one correct answer for this question.
ABSOLUTELY FRIGGIN’ NOT!
Both teams were given a warning at the time of the incident, but no players were ejected. Nobody from the Dodgers, including Kelly, was ejected from the game when the benches cleared. The umpires calling the game regained control of the situation and didn’t see a need to throw anyone out, meaning the actions of that incident were not extremely serious, certainly not serious enough to hand down an eight-game suspension.
Many players and fans have expressed their outrage about how MLB commissioner Rob Manfred and the league handled the sign stealing scandal. The Astros’ players involved got a slap on the wrist. No one on the team was suspended and the organization didn’t have their 2017 World Series vacated. They didn’t do the right thing from the very beginning.
If MLB would have handed down a harsher punishment to the Astros to begin with, players, teams and organizations wouldn’t feel like they have to take matters into their own hands to get some type of justice for the way everything was handled.
Instead of being punished involved in the sign stealing, the Houston players received immunity from discipline in return for cooperating with a Major League Baseball investigation and sacrificed their managers, coaches and team executives, all of whom took the fall for the players’ transgressions.
Kelly appeared on fellow teammate Ross Stripling’s podcast “The Big Swing” and expressed what everyone else feels about this situation.
“The people who took the fall for what happened is nonsense,” Kelly said. “Yes, everyone is involved. But the way that [sign-stealing system] was run over there was not from the coaching staff. They’re not the head boss in charge of that thing. It’s the players. So now the players get the immunity, and all they do is go snitch like a little b—-, and they don’t have to get fined, they don’t have to lose games.”
The people who took the fall were Houston’s former bench coach Alex Cora, manager AJ Hinch, general manager Jeff Luhnow and veteran slugger Carlos Beltran, who was hired to be the New York Mets manager in 2020.
The league is sending a message through this suspension, saying any player who retaliates or tries to create their own personal justice by throwing at an Astros player or through other similar ways will be getting a harsher penalty than the players who actually cheated in the first place.
If the league did not want this to happen, Manfred should have given a harsher penalty. If that was the case, and MLB forced Houston to vacate the World Series title along with other punishments, and players from other teams were still attempting to throw at the Astros players, then the Kelly suspension would make more sense.
The league’s stance on the cheating scandal also sends a message to the younger generation, one that says cheating will be tolerated and can be allowed in certain circumstances, when in reality any type of cheating should never be condoned and should be punished.
One of the most difficult accomplishments to do in any professional sport is to win a championship. Whether its football, basketball, baseball, or any other sport, the path to becoming a champion is a test of toughness, consistency, perseverance, and determination. And yet the Houston Astros became World Series champions in the most dishonest and unfair manner.
Kelly’s famous pouty face was an expression that all Dodgers fans had on their minds. The current state of Major League Baseball is one big joke that is very hard to take seriously and trust right at this very moment