The second baseball ethics story that imposed upon my consciousness last night (the first was posted on here), is more substantive than the first.
Some background is required. The Houston Astros are playing the Los Angeles Dodgers for the first time since it was revealed that the Astros had used an illegal (in baseball terms) scheme to assist the team’s hitters by stealing the opposition’s signs using outfield cameras during the entire 2017 season, including the World Series. The Dodgers were the Astros’ National League opponents in that Series, a very close one. They have not been shy about claiming that they were robbed of a World Championship.
The two teams meeting for the first time since the Astros management was punished by Major League Baseball sparked lots of speculation. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t expect his players to retaliate against the Astros, which shows what he knows. In the sixth inning of the first game of the series with the Dodgers leading 5-2, fire-balling L.A. reliever Joe Kelly threw a 3-0 fastball over Houston’s MVP Alex Bregman‘s head to the backstop. This is what as known as “a message.” Later in the same inning, with runners on first and second, Kelly threw a first-pitch fastball that nearly hit Astros shortstop Carlos Correa in the head. That ball also sailed to the backstop and allowed both runners to advance. Correa ultimately struck out, and as Kelly retreated from the mound towards the dugout, he made a mocking frowny face, then shouted, “Nice swing, bitch!” at Correa. These are known in technical baseball lexicon as “fighting words.” Both benches emptied, but no punches were thrown. The Dodgers went on to win 5-2.
During the off-season, Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred issued a memorandum telling teams not to retaliate against the Astros. There is also a temporary rule for the shortened 60-game 2020 season prohibiting players and coaches from fighting with other teams or arguing with umpires—social distancing, don’t you know.
While I was watching last night’s Red Sox-Mets game, I learned that Joe Kelly had been suspended eight games. Continue reading