Oakland Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano after brawl
Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

It seemed somewhat fair on the surface. Following last weekend’s bench-clearing brawl between the Oakland Athletics and division-rival Houston Astros, suspensions were handed down by Major League Baseball.

The instigator of the brawl, Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron, got a record 20 games. Meanwhile, A’s star outfielder Ramon Laureano received a six-game ban.

Heading into their Bay Bridge Series against the San Francisco Giants Friday night, the first-place A’s got some good news. Laureano’s suspension has been reduced to four games.

Finally, Major League Baseball has gotten something right. Here’s why.

Alex Cinton created the hostile environment in the first place

  • After Laureano was hit a second time in the same game this past Sunday, he seemed to take exception as the outfielder headed to first base.
  • Though, it must be noted that the hit-by-pitch came via the off-speed variety. It did not look intentional. As Laureano seemed ready to put this past him, Cintron started jawing at the outfielder.
  • The youngster suggested after the game that Cintron aimed derogatory remarks in the direction of the A’s player, specifically about his mom. There’s no room in baseball for that.

The Houston Astros cheating scandal and the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Prior to the start of the 2020 season being suspended back in March, the talk of the baseball world was the Astros’ cheating scandal from 2017 and 2018.
  • Though, Astros players escaped any type of punishment in terms of suspensions. This created a situation where other teams retaliated during spring training.

Bottom line

It’s understandable that MLB has decided to take social distancing protocols seriously in the age of COVID-19. Bench-clearing brawls like we saw last Sunday in Oakland will be met with swift punishment. As they should.

Although, Houston’s role in what we’re seeing surround the team can’t be lost in all of this. Finally, Major League Baseball is starting to take that into account. It won’t change what happened in the past. But it has now put this team on notice.