Rob Manfred is a bad commissioner. No, really. Does this guy get anything right?
Tuesday night marked the Dodgers’ first return to Minute Maid Park since the debacle that was game five of the 2017 World Series. I don’t need to relive that haunted game, and I’m sure you don’t need to either.
Then, it was another tarnishing episode in Clayton Kershaw’s haunted playoff legacy. Now, it’s one of the biggest what-ifs that Dodgers fans will probably never get over.
The Astros cheated, and they forever altered a chunk of baseball history for the worse. They don’t deserve our forgiveness, and that’s not just because of the continual arrogance they’ve displayed since their scandal was exposed months ago.
So, as much as LA manager Dave Roberts tried to emphasize to his team that this was ‘just another game’ in this peculiar 60 game regular season, no one ever believed that.
While without a doubt there were some fans that wouldn’t have necessarily minded seeing a bit of forced injury strike the likes of Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve, George Springer, or Carlos Correa, the vast majority of people merely hoped for some menial, relatively harmless, payback.
And that’s where Joe Kelly steps in during the fifth inning of Tuesday’s game.
Joe Kelly, instant Dodgers legend.
— ESPN Los Angeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) July 29, 2020
Truthfully, Kelly’s pitching is a mess half of the time. We all remember the video that went viral this past offseason when Kelly broke a window in his house because of his unpredictable pitching command.
So when Kelly immediately rattled off three balls and couldn’t find the strike zone while facing Bregman, it didn’t really make much sense to try working his way back into the count.
He then threw a 96 MPH pitch near Bregman’s head, but let’s also be honest here. If the Astros outfielder wasn’t so vertically challenged, would the throw have even come close to going above his shoulders?
It's not Joe Kelly's fault that Bregman is 4'6 and everything is technically his "head area"
— Brook Smith (@brookme3) July 29, 2020
Anyways, in an instant, Kelly became a hero not only for a grieving fan base that likely would’ve won its first championship since 1988 a couple of years ago had it not been for the Astros cheating, but also for the rest of the MLB.
His night wasn’t over yet, though.
After spending some time throwing to first, likely with the intention to nail Bregman in the ribs, Kelly’s lack of control found him also throwing a pitch up and high to the ignorantly outspoken, previously massage-injured, Carlos Correa.
He’d then work his way back into the count, strikeout Correa with a slider, and cement his legacy in Dodgers’ folklore by mocking the Astros shortstop with a few whiny faces and exchange of words.
Joe Kelly with a Good impression of Correa here pic.twitter.com/qAEw05Ovr5
— Dodgers Nation (@DodgersNation) July 29, 2020
In the post-game press conference Kelly and the Dodgers’ brass would play off what happened during that fifth-inning, but we all know what actually transpired.
Best of all, no one was injured as a result of the series of altercations, but the message that so many have been trying to communicate to Houston’s dugout rang loud and true: no one respects the players on that team or the organization as a whole anymore.
And what do the astros players deserve Jon? Just snitch and walk free and still seem confused as to why everyone is mad? https://t.co/Iztyr30NXy
— ? Mike ???????? Clevinger ? (@Mike_Anthony13) July 29, 2020
Well, no one but Manfred, MLB’s long embarrassing commissioner, that is.
On Wednesday Kelly was handed down a hefty eight-game suspension, which in this COVID-era 60 game regular season, is equivalent to a 22 game suspension in a typical 162 game marathon.
But if Kelly was given the equivalent of 22 games for not hitting a single batter and merely exchanging a few well-deserved words with Correa, the Astros must’ve been banned for an entire season for all they did…right?
If Joe Kelly serves a single game of that 8-game suspension, he will have been punished more than any of the players that cheated to win a World Series title in 2017. Let that sink in.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) July 29, 2020
When the MLB investigated this trash-can-banging scandal (It’s been months and I still can’t believe this is real!) they granted the Astros players immunity in exchange for the truth. So, when it became clear how despicable this entire situation really was, no players were suspended or punished in any way for their dishonest and slimy wrongdoings.
For Pete’s sake, just think about how Kershaw’s legacy might be different had none of this ever happened.
Without the Astros players literally knowing which pitches he’d throw in that World Series Game 5 in 2017, the Dodgers probably win the title and he likely wins the World Series MVP.
All those “Kershaw always chokes in the playoffs” jokes? They’d be nonexistent.
This is all without even mentioning the number of players throughout the league that lost their jobs or were sent back down to the minors due to something that was completely out of their control.
Fans and players are upset, and understandably so. But while the anger starts with the Astros, it continues and is amplified by the sham that is Rob Manfred as the commissioner.
Manfred’s suspension of Kelly delivers a clear message from him to the rest of the league: teams might as well cheat because I’ll protect you before I protect the sanctity of baseball.
What a blow to the fans and players that live and breathe this beautiful game.
I love baseball. I love the people, the drama, the hope and fun it brings to day-to-day life. Specifically, I love Dodgers, a world class Major League Baseball organization. But I do NOT love Major League Baseball and its incompetent leadership. Rob Manfred needs to be stopped.
— Gail Johnson ?? (@GJOH29) July 29, 2020
If Manfred continues to be in charge of baseball, it would not be far-fetched to predict the demise of America’s favorite pastime.
I mean seriously, this guy will do whatever it takes to protect a bunch of dudes that virtually made the entire 2017 season worthless. What’s next?
And don’t even get me started on how poorly Manfred has handled the entire COVID situation.
Kelly will appeal his suspension, but most aren’t very optimistic that’ll change anything. The MLB has already drawn its lines in the sand, and unfortunately, they’re for the detriment of the sport.
I’d say, as a fan of the game, enjoy baseball while you can. Who knows if this season will even finish. And on top of that, if Manfred is not ousted soon, there might not be much to enjoy come a few year’s time.