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On July 28th, Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly took the mound in the sixth inning against the Houston Astros. While on the mound, he created some buzz by hitting Houston third baseman Alex Bregman on a pitch that went behind him.
Then two batters later, shortstop Carlos Correa would see a pitch that looked as if it was aimed at his head and ducked. While Correa would eventually strike out, a confrontation would ensue after Kelly barked from the mound, “Nice swing *expletive*!” The benches would clear but no brawl would happen.
The next day, Kelly was slapped with an eight-game suspension, which he has since announced he will appeal. It begs the question: should Kelly be suspended?
The answer, is yes…but not for eight games.
While it’s widely known that pitchers from other teams were going to throw at Houston players for their role in the 2017 electronic sign-stealing scandal, Kelly took it a bit too far.
When you intentionally throw at a player, pitchers tend to disguise it as a normal pitch that slipped, usually aimed at the hitter’s back or at least below the shoulders. When Kelly’s ball went near Correa’s head, that’s when it crossed the line.
To hit a batter because they were a part of a cheating team is one thing, especially when the penalty that came from it is considered a slap on the wrist. It was going to happen and deservedly so. That being said, when the intent to injure is there that’s beyond the limit and an attempted head shot is more often than not seen as an intent to injure.
Add to it Kelly’s dialogue afterward and it increases the case against him. If he just kept his mouth closed, the story would have been over. Instead he decided to taunt Correa. Smack talk is always alright and is loved by fans in all sports. However, considering he nearly hit his second batter of the inning, aimed at his head and then barked at him afterwards…it was kind of uncalled for.
So he should have been suspended, much to the dismay of many fans on social media. However, eight games is too much.
When players get suspended intentionally throwing at a batter and getting caught, the penalties are usually low. For example, last year, Los Angeles Angels pitcher Noe Ramirez received a three game suspension for intentionally hitting then Houston Astro Jake Marisnick. Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Ryan Dempster received a five-game suspension for throwing at former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez twice. Both are less than the eight-games that Kelly got.
Also, keep in mind that baseball is in a shortened season. Three to five games, even eight games, in a 163 game season is just a splash in the bucket. This is season is only 60 games. Kelly’s eight game suspension, in this time frame, is the equivalent to a 22-game suspension in a normal season. That’s just ludicrous.
Baseball got it right for suspending Kelly, there’s no need to throw at a person’s head. If you’re going to throw at a player like that, it has to be below the shoulders. Even then though, eight games in a 60 game season is just absurd. Once again, baseball only got it half right.