With MLB commissioner Rob Manfred imposing a 60-game schedule for the 2020 season in response to failed negotiations with the Players Association, he did so by having teams primarily play opponents in their own division, with 20 remaining games coming against those in the same geographic location.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, it’s amounting to plenty of National League West matchups and facing the American League West. Fittingly, the Dodgers’ first road trip began with a two-game series against the Houston Astros.
It marked the first time the teams met since MLB found the Astros guilty of electronically stealing signs en route to defeating the Dodgers in the 2017 World Series. As one would expect, that didn’t sit well within the L.A. clubhouse.
The series opener had a a feeling of heightened intensity and that became some fireworks when Joe Kelly and Carlos Correa exchanged words after a strikeout to end the sixth inning. Kelly had previously uncorked a fastball over Alex Bregman’s head and brushed back Yuli Gurriel and Correa with breaking balls.
Benches cleared and suspensions later followed for Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (one game) and Kelly (eight). Astros manager Dusty Baker was fined an undisclosed amount. Roberts immediately served his suspension, while Kelly appealed and has remained active since the incident.
Kelly’s appeal hearing was scheduled to take place this week but has been delayed until Monday. In turn, it also has pushed back the release of Kelly’s appearance on “The Big Swing” podcast, hosted by Ross Stripling and Cooper Surles.
QUICK ANNOUNCEMENT: Unfortunately, Joe Kelly’s appeal hearing has been moved to Monday. So, be on the lookout for his interview NEXT week. It’s worth the wait!! pic.twitter.com/21YXmZREak
— Big Swing Podcast (@bigswingpodcast) August 7, 2020
While MLB ultimately ruled Kelly intentionally threw at the Astros, he denied as much during a postgame interview from Minute Maid Park.
“I wasn’t feeling the greatest or most comfortable. It took me a while to hone in on my mechanics,” Kelly explained.
Roberts ‘pleaded’ with MLB
Several current and former players came to Kelly’s defense when the suspension was announced, and his manager also attempted to influence the league’s decision. The ruling was made by MLB senior vice president of baseball operations, a former teammate of Roberts.
“I did have a conversation with Chris and I pleaded our case. I don’t have any say in it (the appeals process), unfortunately. He’s doing his job,” Roberts said.
“In their opinion, he was throwing at a hitter. They’re really trying to get away from balls going at players. No one admitted that he did it on purpose; it got away, it’s part of the game. But in their opinion, they felt different.”
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