Is Joe Kelly’s eight-game suspension indicative of a bigger MLB problem?

Joe Kelly taunts Carlos Correa the night before being served an eight game suspension by MLB. (AP/David J. Phillip)

Eight. That’s the number of games Joe Kelly was suspended by MLB for whizzing (and curving) some baseballs by Astros players Alex Bregman, Yuli Gurriel and Carlos Correa. If you watched the pitching sequence and listened to Kelly’s July 28, post-game interview, you’re probably on his side.

The baseball world saw something it had been wanting for some eight months now. A big bang. A kettle ready to blow. And it finally happened, albeit in a somewhat different way than we expected.

We wondered what would happen when the Los Angeles Dodgers and Houston Astros finally came face-to-face for the first time following the news of a major cheating scandal on the part of the Astros — possibly the biggest baseball has ever seen.

Back in Nov. 2019, Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic, broke a baseball story that shocked everyone except the perpetrators. It was reported and confirmed that the Houston Astros cheated in their 2017 World Series *winning year. To this day, no Astros players were punished.

Some eight months after the cheating scandal story broke, at the beginning of an already contentious 2020 MLB season, baseball bureaucrats once again went against what seemed right and natural by not only suspending Joe Kelly, but also suspending manager Dave Roberts for the July 28 incident. Now, Dusty Baker, manager of the Astros was fined, but is it even worth paying attention to if it’s less severe than his Dodger counterparts?

“Free Joe Kelly” screamed the baseball world on Twitter today. Fans, journalists, broadcasters and even players, current and former, shared the same sentiment upon hearing of Joe Kelly’s eight-game suspension.
Los Angeles Angels pitcher, Keynan Middleton on Twitter.

Thankfully, most are on the right side of this scandal including professionals. A score of anti-MLB sentiment regarding the controversial suspension flooded our timelines and rightfully so.

Cleveland Indians pitcher, Mike Clevinger on Twitter.
NY Mets pitcher, Marcus Stroman, responds to Athletic writer, Ken Rosenthal on Twitter.

Was it right for MLB and Commissioner Rob Manfred to come down with such a harsh suspension? Statistically, Kelly’s eight-game suspension in a 60-game season is the equivalent of missing nearly 22 games in a normal 162-game season, and Kelly didn’t even get ejected for his “outburst”. That’s a big price Kelly has to pay for not actually hitting an Astros player.

Jerry Hairston, Jr. and Nomar Garciaparra discuss Joe Kelly’s suspension.

However, Kelly does plan on appealing the decision, while Roberts intends to serve out his one-game suspension during today’s Dodger-Astros game. Kelly seems to be taking everything in stride though — he even hopped on his own “free Joe Kelly” train — he had this to post on Instagram following his suspension.

Photo via Instagram: @joe.kelly17

And yes, he did tag Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman in his Instagram post.

Only time will tell us how this plays out, maybe Kelly’s appeal and the major backlash from just about everyone concerned with the current state of MLB decision-making will make a difference in Manfred’s decision.

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