Usually amid the din of a noisy ballpark, it’s easy to miss a comment lobbed from the dugout. Batters might not hear a snide remark, pitchers most certainly wouldn’t be as able to hear the snark coming from the batter’s box. But with empty stadiums and minimal noise as a buffer, things are coming across a lot more clearly and it’s causing trouble.
Take, for example, the Sunday brawl between the Oakland Athletics and the Houston Astros. Ramon Laureano was already fired up about being hit by a pitch twice, and evidently overheard Astros hitting coach Alex Citron say “in Spanish something you don’t say about my mother.”
The result was a bench-clearing ruckus between the two clubs, a six-game suspension for Laureano, and a whopping 20-game suspension for Citron. It ties the longest MLB suspension since that of Kenny Rogers in 2005.
This debacle — made worse because it violated pretty much every MLB social distancing rule — comes on the heels of two other heated events for these two clubs. Not even two weeks ago, pitcher Joe Kelly was suspended for 10 games for throwning behind Alex Bregman and making comments to the Astros dugout.
Then just last week, A’s bench coach Ryan Christenson came under fire for making an “accidental” Nazi salute on camera. As of this writing Christenson has issued an apology but there have not been any official repercussions.
What we’re seeing is a mix of punishments with no real logic behind them. Kelly’s 10-game suspension was criticized broadly for being too much in an already shortened season, and Laureano has already said he will appeal his six-game suspension.
Perhaps the AL West might consider keeping a low profile for a week or so.
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- The Sports Illustrated staff ponder what comes next for Rob Manfred, and meanwhile I’m just humming King George’s song about the hubris of leadership from Hamilton.
- It has been 135 years since major league ball was played in Buffalo, and Bradford Doolittle looks back into history for us.
- Ken Rosenthal thinks Trevor Story is one of the most underrated stars in baseball today. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Cutch is a gift.
- Tensions are running high as teams are meeting with familiar umpires more frequently this season, writes Zach Buchanan. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Poor Ben Clemens, Howie Kendrick absolutely destroyed the article he meant to write.
- According to Max Goodman, the best rivalry in baseball right now is between the Yankees and the... Rays?
- Some of the cutouts at Dodger stadium have a much bigger story than just being an average fan, shares Molly Knight. (The Athletic subscription required.)
- Javier Baez has a new arrival coming.
- And so does Trea Turner.
And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.