When Major League Baseball issued no punishment to Houston Astros players for the sign-stealing scandal of 2017 and instead went after the front office and coaching staff for discipline, many felt those benefitting the most from the cheating got off the lightest.
This disdain was clear in a game earlier this season when Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Joe Kelly threw behind Alex Bregman and then taunted Carlos Correa as he walked off the mound, causing the benches to clear. Kelly was handed an eight-game suspension which was knocked down to five on appeal.
Following the initial suspension - eight more games than any active Astros player got - Kelly tapped a podcast with teammate Ross Stripling. He didn't hold back.
"The people who took the fall for what happened is nonsense," Kelly said. "Yes, everyone is involved. But the way that [sign-stealing system] was run over there was not from coaching staff. ... They're not the head boss in charge of that thing. It's the players. So now the players get the immunity, and all they do is go snitch like a little b****, and they don't have to get fined, they don't have to lose games.
"When you take someone's livelihood ... to save your own ass, that's what I don't like. Cheating? They cheated. Everyone knows they're cheaters. They know they're cheaters. It's over. That's done with. But now they mess it up by ruining other people's lives."
Manager A.J. Hinch, general manager Jeff Luhnow, retired designated hitter Carlos Beltran and bench coach Alex Cora were all implicated in the scandal and all lost their jobs. Hinch, Luhnow and Cora were all suspended one year by MLB. Beltran was given no formal discipline but ended up resigning as New York Mets manager, a position he'd been hired for just days before.
"When you taint someone's name to save your own name, this is one of the worst things that you could probably do. ... That really friggin' bugs me. I think I'll be irritated forever," Kelly said.
Kelly was a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2017 and won a World Series with Cora - who was hired by Boston in 2018 - as his manager the season later.
"Maybe they have called AC [Alex Cora] and said, 'Hey, I'm sorry.' Or called Luhnow and said, 'Hey, I'm sorry.' Or called Hinch, and [Carlos] Beltran. ... If they had said, 'Hey, I'm super-scared, I didn't know what to do, I didn't want to lose money, I had to rat.' ... Grow a pair of balls and say that."
Kelly also called his suspension "crazy" and said he followed CDC guidelines in the bench clearing incident from July 28 while accusing Correa of spitting at Dodger players.
"I socially distanced. I walked away. I didn't get close, and I followed all the guidelines of the CDC, and people on the other side (the Astros) didn't," he said.
The two teams are schedule to meet again in mid-September at Dodger Stadium.