Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dodgers-Astros Bench Clearing - Was it Retaliation?

Prior to 2020's originally scheduled MLB season, the Houston Astros' sign-stealing scandal surrounding their World Series win made the rounds with baseball suspending GM Jeff Luhnow and Manager AJ Hinch, but refusing to vacate their title.

The Los Angeles Dodgers—the 2017 World Series runners up—joined a large swath of the baseball community in taking umbrage with Houston's misconduct, and many preseason opinions swirled around an eventual Dodgers-Astros rematch, knowing what we know now edition.

In February, we discussed potential retaliation (generally via hit-by-pitch or intentionally throwing at a batter) and how an umpire should respond.

LA pitcher Kelly appears to taunt Houston.
The COVID-19 delayed season meant the Dodgers-Astros rematch was delayed, too, until late July 2020. On Tuesday, July 28, Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly had himself an inning.

With crew chief Alfonso Marquez serving as the home plate umpire, Kelly threw a 3-0 fastball above Astros batter Alex Bregman's head to start the bottom of Tuesday's 6th inning, placed his foot in front of first base during an unsuccessful double play attempt, resulting in Houston batter-runner Michael Brantley stepping on Kelly's foot at the bag, threw multiple inside pitches to Yuli Gurriel during a four-pitch walk, and nearly beaned Carlos Correa with a head-high pitch before striking Correa out to end the inning.

At no point did Kelly's actions produce a warning or ejection, but after Correa struck out, Kelly was pictured making faces and exchanging unsporting words and taunts with Houston, resulting in a benches-clearing incident.

Kelly threw several pitches near Astro heads.
Gil's Call: The analysis is two-fold. First, should there have been warnings or ejections for the pitches or gameplay-related conduct? Second, what about Major League Baseball's 2020 coronavirus-related health and safety protocols.

Prior to resuming its COVID-paused season, MLB issued a directive to teams, writing "prohibitions against unsportsmanlike conduct will be strictly enforced to prevent unnecessary physical contact and support physical distancing between individuals on the playing field.

"Players or managers who leave their positions to argue with umpires, come within six feet of an umpire or opposing player or manager for the purpose of argument, or engage in altercations on the field are subject to immediate ejection and discipline, including fines and suspensions."

Accordingly, every person who left his position to interact negatively with the other team—in other words, Astros coach Omar Lopez and Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts, both seen at the front of the skirmish line facing their own clubs trying to calm the situation, would be exempt—should be "subject to immediate ejection and discipline," pursuant to MLB's own written policy.

Dare MLB ban bullpens from participating?
Yet no one was ejected. Primarily because had the umpires enforced MLB's policy, nearly every eligible player on both teams would have been removed from the game, leaving baseball in the most unenviable situation of a double-forfeit.

It's a difficult situation for an umpiring crew, and to Marquez's crew's credit, no further incidents occurred for the remainder of the game. However, one only need ask the Miami Marlins about the importance of adhering to MLB's health and safety protocols during this 2020 coronavirus season, lest risking an outbreak like the one that has sidelined Miami and Philadelphia for the next week of the modified baseball schedule.

Video as follows:

Alternate Link: Dodgers and Astros Clear Benches after Head-High Pitches (CCS)


Post a Comment