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Outside The Confines: MLB suspensions are impossible to estimate

When the A’s and Astros met this past weekend, things got heated.

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Houston Astros v Oakland Athletics Photo by Nhat V. Meyer/MediaNews Group/The Mercury News via Getty Images

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.

  • And so does Trea Turner.

And tomorrow will be a better day than today, Buster. Make it so.