Appearing on Ross Stripling's The Big Swing podcast (h/t ESPN's Buster Olney), Kelly explained why he has taken such issue with Houston Astros players in the wake of the sign-stealing scandal that resulted in the suspension and firing of Astros manager A.J. Hinch and general manager Jeff Luhnow:
"The people who took the fall for what happened is nonsense. Yes, everyone is involved. But the way that [sign-stealing system] was run over there was not from coaching staff. ... They're not the head boss in charge of that thing. It's the players. So now the players get the immunity, and all they do is go snitch like a little b---h, and they don't have to get fined, they don't have to lose games.
"When you take someone's livelihood ... to save your own ass, that's what I don't like. Cheating? They cheated. Everyone knows they're cheaters. They know they're cheaters. It's over. That's done with. But now they mess it up by ruining other people's lives, so they f----- it up twice. ... When you taint someone's name to save your own name, this is one of the worst things that you could probably do. ... That really friggin' bugs me. I think I'll be irritated forever."
MLB suspended Kelly eight games after he threw at both Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa and then taunted Correa during a July 28 game against Houston. The incident caused the benches to clear, although there was no physical altercation.
MLB later lessened the suspension to five games after Kelly appealed.
The Astros beat the Dodgers to win the 2017 World Series in seven games, which was the season during which Houston was found to have illegally stolen signs. Kelly was not part of that Dodgers team, but he played for the Boston Red Sox in 2018 when they beat the Dodgers in the World Series.
Boston, which was managed by former Astros bench coach Alex Cora, was also found to have illegally stolen signs in 2018. Cora was suspended for the 2020 season and let go by the Red Sox, but his suspension stemmed from his role in the Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scandal.
Carlos Beltran, who played for the Astros in 2017, took plenty of heat as well. The New York Mets hired him as their manager during the offseason, but they moved on from him before he ever managed a game because of his involvement in Houston's sign-stealing system.
Kelly said it "doesn't sit right with me" when Astros players "lie" and deflect blame for the sign-stealing scandal, especially since he is so close to Cora.
Kelly also called his initial eight-game suspension "crazy" and explained why he thought it was excessive:
"I socially distanced. I walked away. I didn't get close, and I followed all the guidelines of the CDC, and people on the other side [the Astros] didn't. ... They walked out of their dugout, walked toward us. Carlos Correa f------ spit at our team. I don't know if it was [at] me. He spit out of his mouth. ... This guy walks over to our dugout and then spits, while I follow all the rules, and I get eight games.
"They have a manager [Dusty Baker] on their side, verbatim, yelling at me, 'Get your little skinny ass on the mound.' So my cuss words get eight games, and his cuss words get zero? That makes complete sense, right? Welcome to planet earth. A debacle."
Aside from Kelly, Baker was fined, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts was suspended one game.
As of right now, Kelly and the Dodgers have much more to smile about than the Astros, as they own the third-best record in the National League at 12-7 and trail the Colorado Rockies by just a half-game for the NL West lead.
Meanwhile, the Astros have struggled after losing Gerrit Cole in free agency and Justin Verlander to injury, as they are 8-10 and 4.5 games behind the Oakland Athletics for first place in the AL West.