Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly was suspended after throwing near a pair of Houston Astros hitters earlier in the shortened MLB season. It was the first major retribution we’ve seen against the Astros in wake of the cheating scandal that was uncovered late last year.
During the teams’ July 28 game, Kelly nearly beaned stars Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa. Both benches cleared after one of the throws, leading to a pretty ugly showdown. After the dust cleared, Kelly was suspended for eight games, a controversial number for a reliever given the shortened 60-game season.
The MLB ultimately cut the suspension by three games. Before that decision, Kelly appeared on his teammate Ross Stripling’s podcast “The Big Swing.” He really didn’t hold back, whether it was about the Astros or the MLB’s decision on his suspension.
Interestingly, Kelly didn’t harp on the cheating itself. “It’s over. That’s been there, done that,” he told Stripling. He was most fed up with how the players handled the investigation. The MLB gave them immunity to speak on the scandal, and Kelly believes they used it to throw everyone else under the bus, despite it being a “player-led” scheme.
Joe Kelly had some strong words about how he believes Astros players let their managers, coaches and others take the fall for their transgressions. pic.twitter.com/D19Ik0wIan
— ESPN (@espn) August 13, 2020
“The people who took the fall for what happened is nonsense,” Kelly said during the podcast interview. “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. So now the players get the immunity, and all they do is go snitch like a little b***h, and they don’t have to get fined, they don’t have to lose games.”
Joe Kelly says he’ll be “irritated forever,” by how things played out, both with the scandal itself, and the way the Astros players handled the investigation and the aftermath.
Kelly also had a major issue with the suspension itself. He rebuts the MLB’s assertion that he caused the benches to clear—something made more serious by the ongoing health crisis which the league has struggled to contain thus far—and alleged that Correa spit at him during the incident.
“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 didn’t,” Kelly said. […] “They walked out of their dugout, walked toward us. Carlos Correa f***ing spit at our team… 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 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.”
Astros manager Dusty Baker revealed that Kelly told Correa “nice swing, b***h” after striking him out. Baker received a fine for the altercation, but no suspension.
“When Carlos was tripping back at me,” Kelly said, “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.”
The Los Angeles Dodgers swept the Houston Astros in that early-season two-game series. The two heated rivals will play once again from Sept. 12-13.