Joe Kelly isn't one to mince his words.
Nor is he one to back down on the mound.
And even after he was suspended by Major League Baseball for eight games — later reduced to five after an appeal — for throwing pitches near the heads of Houston Astros' Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa last month, the Los Angeles Dodgers reliever tossed another heater at the Astros' players on how they were offered immunity from discipline in return for cooperating with MLB during the sign-stealing investigation.
"The people who took the fall for what happened is nonsense," he said during an appearance on The Big Swing podcast with teammate Ross Stripling. "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 (expletive), and they don't have to get fined, they don't have to lose games."
Joe Kelly of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts after getting the Houston Astros' Carlos Correa out. (Photo: Bob Levey, Getty Images)
In Kelly's eyes, those who took the fall didn't sit well with him.
Astros GM Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch were suspended by MLB and fired by Houston owner Jim Crane in January after MLB's investigation. Former player Carlos Beltran, who had been hired to manage the New York Mets in 2020, lost his job. And Alex Cora, former Astros bench coach who led the 2018 Boston Red Sox to a World Series title — in which Kelly was a member of — was suspended for the 2020 season and let go by the Red Sox.
"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, so they (expletive) it up twice. … 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."
As for his suspension, Kelly called it "crazy" and thought it was excessive.
"It blows my mind, still," he said. "It's so upsetting."
He also contends he didn't incite the Astros to leave the dugout.
Carlos Correa and Joe Kelly exchanged words after Kelly struck out Correa. Benches cleared following the exchange. pic.twitter.com/sVHaibpN2y
"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. "… They walked out of their dugout, walked toward us. Carlos Correa (expletive) spit at our team. I don't know if it was [at] me. He spit out of his mouth. … This guy walks over to our dugout and then spits, while I follow all the rules, and I get eight games.
"They have a manager (Dusty Baker) on their side, verbatim, yelling at me, 'Get your little skinny ass on the mound.' So my cuss words get eight games, and his cuss words get zero? That makes complete sense, right? Welcome to planet earth. A debacle."
Kelly’s actions in July made him an instant folk hero in Los Angeles for retaliating against the Astros. His words in the podcast only backs it up.
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