When Joe Kelly received a 10-game suspension for throwing behind — and then mocking — the Astros earlier this season the message from Major League Baseball was pretty clear. In the midst of a pandemic that is ravaging the country and has already led to a pair of teams having to shut down this season, baseball is walking a fine line already playing baseball in a non-bubble atmosphere.
As such, escalating situations into the potential for a brawl between teams is being policed strongly by the league in an effort to keep teams from the kind of face-to-face contact that could lead to inter-squad spread. On Sunday, the league’s nightmare situation came to life as the Oakland Athletics and Houston Astros squared off in the Bay, as the A’s Ramon Laureano got hit by a pitch and then was hearing it from the Houston dugout.
Laureano, being egged on by someone on the Astros bench, took off from first base to charge the dugout, where he was tackled and set off a subsequent benches clearing brawl.
BENCHES HAVE CLEARED AT THE ASTROS GAME pic.twitter.com/6P7vGfJAP2
— 2020 Astros Shame Tour (@AsteriskTour) August 9, 2020
The suspensions for this incident figure to be heavy, but what baseball will be most concerned with is if something happens in the coming days in terms of a positive test on either team, because it would almost surely force a shutdown for both. They’ll hand down suspensions tomorrow and then keep their fingers crossed for the next few rounds of testing, hoping that this simply ends at bad optics and doesn’t lead to anything worse.