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Dodgers’ Joe Kelly calls Astros players snitches and rats over cheating scandal

Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly exchanges words with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa on July 28.
Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly exchanges words with Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa on July 28.
(David J. Phillip / Associated Press)

Joe Kelly wasn’t on the Dodgers when they lost to the Houston Astros in the 2017 World Series, but he still holds a deep grudge against the players for shifting blame and avoiding punishment after cheating their way to a championship.

Kelly was a guest on “The Big Swing,” a podcast co-hosted by Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, and didn’t mince words when discussing Astros players’ handling of the scandal during the offseason and in spring training.

He said they became snitches and ratted. He railed against them for scapegoating management and the coaching staff, specifically Alex Cora, the Astros’ bench coach in 2017 and later his manager for two seasons with the Boston Red Sox.

Cora was fired as Red Sox manager after Major League Baseball’s report named him as one of the cheating scheme’s masterminds. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow and manager A.J. Hinch also lost their jobs. Carlos Beltrán, the only player named in MLB’s report, was let go as manager of the New York Mets before he managed a game. The other players involved received immunity to cooperate with the league’s investigation. Kelly called the lack of player punishment “nonsense.”

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Joe Kelly released the months of pent-up rage the Dodgers and their fans have been feeling ever since MLB found the Houston Astros cheated in 2017.

“The way that [scheme] was run over there was not from the coaching staff,” Kelly said. “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 ... , and they don’t have to get fined, they don’t have to lose games.”

Kelly said Cora is a “personal friend and a guy who I passionately love.” He explained Cora had to pull his daughter from her middle school in the United States and move to Puerto Rico because of the verbal abuse she received. He said Cora wants to eventually “speak his mind” and tell his side of the story.

“Everyone knows they cheated,” Kelly said. “That’s fine. That’s completely fine. It’s not fine to do it, but it’s fine that we already know it happened. What’s not fine is ruining someone’s life to make yourself look better. That ain’t fine.”

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The podcast episode was released at midnight Thursday but was recorded Aug. 2 when, the Dodgers were in San Diego. Kelly was four days removed from receiving an eight-game suspension for throwing pitches near two Astros batters’ heads.

Kelly fired a 3-0 fastball behind Alex Bregman’s head in the first game of a two-game series against the Astros on July 28. He threw a curveball near Carlos Correa’s head later in the inning that Correa believed was intentional.

Correa glared at Kelly. The two later exchanged words when Correa struck out to end the inning. Kelly mocked Correa with a pouting face before the benches cleared.

Dodgers pitcher Joe Kelly makes a face at Houston Astros' Carlos Correa on July 28.
(Bob Levey / Getty Images)
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Kelly’s suspension was reduced to five games Wednesday after appeal. He will serve the ban when he comes off the injured list.

Major League Baseball cited Kelly’s involvement in a brawl in 2018 as reason for the original eight-game ruling. On the podcast, Kelly criticized the league for leveling such a harsh sentence — the equivalent of 22 games in a normal 162-game season. He called the suspension “crazy,” pointing out that he didn’t hit a batter or receive even a warning from the home plate umpire.

“I threw a ball. It was nowhere close to the history that I’ve had with altercation,” Kelly said. “The facts are there. I got more games, more fine, more punishment. And then they’re going to bring a BS excuse that well during the pandemic we can’t have altercations.

“I didn’t have an altercation. They had the altercation. I cussed. So did their manager. I walked away. They walked towards me so where’s the altercation there? I want to know. I really want to know what they’re actually thinking. Because what they’re doing right now, there’s no thinking involved. There’s literally no thinking involved.”

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Kelly said Astros manager Dusty Baker told him to “get your skinny ass on the mound” and Correa spit at the Dodgers when the benches cleared. Baker received a fine from the league. He was the only Astro disciplined after the fracas.

Mookie Betts won an MVP Award as the Red Sox’s everyday leadoff hitter. Yet, the Dodgers have him batting second even as his teammates struggle at the plate.

“My cuss words get eight games, and his cuss words get zero?” Kelly said. “That makes complete sense, right? Welcome to planet Earth. A debacle.”

Stripling said the Dodgers were ready to leave the cheating scandal in the past, but they were angered by what they believed were phony apologies from Astros players. He said members of the 2017 team will never get over losing to the Astros in the World Series.

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Kelly wasn’t on that team. He was with the Red Sox, a club that lost to the Astros in a division series that year, but he holds hard feelings just like his Dodgers teammates.

“Maybe they have called [Cora] and said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry.’ Or called Luhnow and said, ‘Hey, I’m sorry.’ Or called Hinch, and Beltrán,” Kelly said. 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.’” ”


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