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Baseball Star Trevor Bauer’s ‘Free Joe Kelly’ Shoes Stir Up Debate Within the League & Fans

Cincinnati Reds star Trevor Bauer debuted on social media a custom pair of surprising cleats ahead of last night’s game against the Kansas City Royals.

The starting pitcher took to Twitter to give a first look at his personalized shoes, reading “Free Joe Kelly” on the right shoe with an illustration of the Los Angeles Dodgers player on the right. The message alludes to the suspended Dodgers’ pitcher Joe Kelly who was banned for eight games after the MLB said he intentionally lobbed at Houston Astros players Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa during their teams’ matchup at the end of July; Kelly then appealed the decision and got the suspension reduced to five games.

Bauer then took the shoes a step further by posting another close-up view of the cleats with the caption: “Hey [Carlos Correa] if you want these hit me with a shipping address, I got you.”

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After sharing the post ahead of his own game last night, fans were surprised to see Bauer did not end up wearing the cleats against the Royals. Bauer explained the decision on Twitter across three separated Tweets after the Reds claimed a victory, writing:

For everyone wondering why I didn’t wear the cleats tonight, @MLB threatened to eject me and suspend me and levy unprecedented fines against me if I did. I couldn’t put my teammates at risk like that. Earlier this year, MLB said players could put whatever they wanted on their… cleats, so long as it wasn’t political or offensive. Apparently, Rob is not a fan of players following his rules, as “Free Joe Kelly” is not political and is very clearly said in jest. Just leaves me over here wondering how following the rules = ejection/suspension/fine and cheating your way to a World Series = no ejection/suspension/fine…y’all really know how to pick your battles…learned my lesson though. Fun is bad, cheating is good. Won’t make the same mistake twice, can promise you that.”

The Los Angeles pitcher’s tweets pull reference to the Houston Astros sign-stealing scandal from the 2017 and 2018 MLB seasons. The team reportedly used cameras and tools to decipher their opposing catchers’ signs to pitchers during the game, a signal as to what pitch would be coming next to then warn their own player at-bat.

Following his tweets, many fans were quick to show their support for Bauer while others disapproved of a few of his comments.

One fan responded saying, “Trevor Bauer for MLB Commissioner” while an Astros fan called out the pitcher saying, “Trevor Bauer is still so concerned about a World Series he wasn’t involved in.”

More users responded to the controversial shoes, saying everything from “Free Joe” now to “We must protect Trevor Bauer at all costs.

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