A massive pandemic was one of the few things that could have possibly taken the spotlight off of the Houston Astros after a sign-stealing scandal completely rocked the baseball world and tarnished the team's reputation. But once the pandemic's grip on Major League Baseball loosened, albeit only slightly, and players were allowed to take the field once again, the spotlight went right back to Houston.
Former MLB player Kevin Frandsen, who played with the Phillies, Giants, Angels and Nationals, perhaps said it best:
It took a few games -- the Astros' first series of 2020 against the Mariners went largely without drama -- but a 2017 World Series rematch with the Dodgers was the turning point.
Former big league pitcher Dontrelle Willis, now an MLB analyst for Fox Sports, said he saw this drama coming.
The drama that occurred took the form of a blistering fastball that whizzed by Alex Bregman's head on a 3-0 count, followed later by another call that Carlos Correa had to duck out of the way of. After striking out Correa, Kelly taunted the Astros hitter, causing benches to clear and everyone, including Astros manager Dusty Baker, to get riled up.
Regarding the first pitch, estimable baseball reporter Jeff Passan tweeted out a GIF of Kelly's reaction.
Though many saw Passan's tweet as making light of the dangerous pitch, Passan clarified his intent.
Bill Plaschke, the longtime Los Angeles Times columnist and "Around the Horn" participant, wrote a story on the incident, starting off with a strong sentiment.
"Thank you, Joe Kelly," Plaschke wrote. "Thank you for banging hard on the trash can that is the Houston Astros."
Plaschke wasn't the only one who found Kelly's actions praiseworthy.
Former Dodgers great and current broadcaster Orel Hershiser showed his approval while watching the game from Dodger Stadium.
Gary Sheffield Jr., the son of nine-time All-Star Gary Sheffield, praised Kelly as a hero.
Ryan Lillie and Tyson Miller, two Minor League pitchers in the Reds and Cubs organizations, respectively, took Joe Kelly's side.
Not everyone took Kelly's side, though. Bonta Hill, a host of RADIO.COM Sports affiliate 95.7 The Game, took a different approach.
And no, this last piece isn't a reaction, but it's a response to the event from someone with a fairly important stake in any Astros drama going forward: Jomboy, best known for shedding light on the sign-stealing scandal with detailed investigative videos. Beware, it's full of sarcasm and has some NSFW language.
What do you think? Should Kelly be lauded or criticized? Are the Astros going to have to deal with this from all opponents? Let us know on Twitter @RDCSports!