JOE KELLY: HERO OR HOT HEAD?

Sophia Vlahakis, Editor-in-chief, News and Sports

Joe Kelly was harshly made an example of by Rob Manfred-the kind of severity that the world of baseball hoped the Astros would get-and it becomes clear that the Astros continue to walk away relatively unscathed.

It was clear from the beginning that most found the punishment Manfred gave the Astros weak and as a result, players would definitely not be opposed to taking matters into their own hands- Joe Kelly was the first to do so during the Dodgers and Astros first match up of the season.

Kelly came in to pitch the bottom of the sixth inning with a 3 run cushion. After recording the first out against Jose Altuve, he worked Alex Bregman to a 3-0 count and then delivered a 96 mph fastball behind the head of Bregman to walk him. With two outs, Kelly later faced Carlos Correa to whom he threw a breaking ball very up and inside. He managed to strike out Correa and then kicked Correa when he was down with some taunting that led to an angry exchange between the two and benches clearing. Following this debacle, Joe Kelly was handed an 8 game suspension, Dave Roberts a one game suspension and Dusty Baker a fine.

By Joe Kelly serving even one game of that suspension, he would have been punished more than any player on the Houston Astros for cheating. The same can be said for Dave Roberts who may be the person who has suffered the most because he lost the 2018 World Series to the Astros and now has to sit out a game, which again, is more than any punishment the players who actually cheated their way to a title received.

Head hunting is dangerous. The unwritten rules of baseball condone policing the game with hitting a player (it is a rule as old as baseball itself), but throwing near the head is not a way to go about it and cannot be condoned, but 8 games is excessive. Absolutely ridiculous, you may as well laugh. First, back in 2018 when Joe Kelly was on the Red Sox, he got into a fist fight with Tyler Austin in true Red Sox-Yankee fashion. For that, Kelly had a 6 game suspension. Now in this case, Kelly received an 8 game suspension when he did not actually hit or fight a player. He was basically suspended for lack of control and teasing. Secondly, 8 games is over the top because not only is that punishment outrageous, it is in a shortened season. In a 162 game season, that punishment is equivalent to a suspension of 22 games! To once again compare it to Tyler Austin, Kelly was suspended 6 games for physically fighting someone and 22 for teasing.

It should be noted that Kelly notoriously can not locate his pitches. They are erratic as this outing proved, but Kelly’s intentions were pretty clear especially after his taunting of Correa. There is an argument to be made that Kelly was in the wrong since he was not even on the Dodgers when they lost to the Astros in 2018; however, Joe Kelly was on the Red Sox when they lost  the 2018 ALDS to the Astros and won the 2019 World Series after beating Houston in the ALCS without an elaborate, over the top cheating scheme. If that’s not enough, Joe Kelly has a duty to his teammates, his team, his city and his fans. The Dodgers were robbed, and they have every right to want vengeance and be mad. Kelly’s showing might have made people question his integrity, but to his teammates- whose opinions a player probably values the most- Joe Kelly proved to be a loyal teammate who is ready to go to war for them.

Don’t expect the Dodgers to be the only team looking for retribution. All of baseball- the teams that won the division, the teams that finished way below .500, the teams that just got by- is upset. Sure, there is an argument to be made that all teams cheat in some way or another, but not in a way that was so calculating and extreme as the one executed by the Astros. Baseball is a game made up of hidden signals and a secret language that is unique to each team, and that is the level the game should be played at.  What the Astros did was far beyond anything in the game of baseball. People had their careers ruined, and players and teams were robbed of awards and titles they may never or will never have the chance at again. The Astros will pay and they probably expect to pay because at the end of the day, they got away with murder. Joe Kelly is just the beginning and penalizing him and the others can not be accepted when the world of baseball wanted justice and did not receive it. So for those who want to criticize Joe Kelly on the grounds that he is a coward, criticize the players who actually lacked integrity and shamed the game of baseball- not the one whose minor act caused no real harm and given the circumstances, was justified by a century of unwritten rules and an unspoken agreement amongst players that the pitcher is the punisher.