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Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron receives 20-game suspension for benches-clearing incident

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USA Today

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron receives 20-game suspension for benches-clearing incident

Punishments handed out by Major League Baseball have been under the microscope during this unique season, so a lot of eyes were on how the league would respond to Sunday’s benches-clearing incident between Houston and Oakland.

Astros hitting coach Alex Cintron has been suspended 20 games and fined an undisclosed amount for his role , while A’s outfielder Ramon Laureano has been suspended for 6 games, as announced by MLB Senior Vice President of Player Operations Chris Young. Laureano has elected to appeal and remains available to the Athletics.

The incident occurred in the 7th inning of the finale of a three-game set between these two teams. After being hit for the second time that game (third time in the series), Laureano gestured towards the Astros dugout and exchanged words with Cintron before he rushed in their direction, causing benches to empty.

“I regret charging him because he’s a loser,” Laureano told ESPN. “At the end of the day, I’m here to win a World Series with the Oakland Athletics.”

Laureano also told ESPN that Cintron said something negative about his mother, a claim the Astros hitting coach has denied. It is the second on-field incident Houston has been involved in so far this season, following a controversy in late July that led to Dodgers reliever Joe Kelly being suspended for 8 games.

The 20-game suspension for Cintron is equal to a third of the shortened 60-game schedule this season, in accordance with the MLB’s 2020 operations manual which states “discipline shall not be reduced or prorated based on the length of the season.”

Cintron’s 20-game ban, the longest for a coach since Juan Samuel's 15-game ban in 2000, begins immediately.

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Astros and Athletics clear benches, have a very non-socially distant brawl

Astros and Athletics clear benches, have a very non-socially distant brawl

Even amid the coronavirus pandemic, the normalities of a baseball season will continue on. That means players and managers getting heated, arguments with umpires and benches clearing. But because of the risk the virus poses, MLB has asked for those moments to remain socially distant.

The Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics did not follow that rule on Sunday.

After Athletics outfielder Ramon Laureano was hit by a pitch, he appeared to be exchanging words with a Houston bench coach. With no fans, the words can be heard loud and clear by everybody. That led to both benches clearing and not even six inches of separation between players. 

It's understandable for players to get angry and caught up in the moment, but this move by both teams is rather unacceptable given the current climate of the country and the sport. Though players are being tested constantly, this close contact between teams is unnecessary and only creates a larger risk for all involved.

The non-socially distant brawl comes at a bad time for baseball, as the league is dealing with numerous coronavirus-related issues. The St. Louis Cardinals have had at least 15 games postponed due to an outbreak within the organization, and that comes just after the Miami Marlins dealt with the same problem as well. Cleveland Indians pitcher Zach Plesac was reportedly sent home on Sunday after breaking protocol and going out with friends in Chicago on Saturday night.

Despite tightening up regulations for players, MLB still faces daily challenges while trying to operate a season during a global pandemic. Moments like the brawl between the Athletics and Astros don't help.

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Oakland Athletics bench coach addresses celebration that resembled Nazi gesture

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Oakland Athletics bench coach addresses celebration that resembled Nazi gesture

Following a win over the Texas Rangers on Thursday, Oakland Athletics bench coach Ryan Christenson was filmed celebrating the win with a gesture that resembled a Nazi salute.

Christenson had his arm pointed straight out for an elbow bump, and after reliever Liam Hendriks corrected him, Christenson appeared to notice his mistake, laugh and then do it again. 

The clip quickly made waves on social media, and Christenson has since addressed the issue in a statement released by the team. A former MLB outfielder, Christenson claimed that the gesture was not intentional but rather he was just trying to celebrate the win while adhering to COVID-19 guidelines.

"I made a mistake and will not deny it. Today in the dugout I greeted players with a gesture that was offensive. In the world today of Covid, I adapted our elbow bump, which we do after wins, to create some distance with the players," Christenson said. "My gesture unintentionally resulted in a racist and horrible salute that I do not believe in. What I did was unacceptable and I deeply apologize." 

The Athletics also released a statement signifying their disappointment with the actions, especially in a time when the sports world is working to eliminate racism and create an inclusive society.

"A's bench coach Ryan Christenson greeted players with a gesture that looked like a Nazi salute. We do not support or condone this gesture or the racist sentiment behind it. This is incredibly offensive, especially in these times when we as a Club and so many others are working to expose and address racial inequities in our country," the team said. "We are deeply sorry that this happened on our playing field." 

Christenson played four seasons with Oakland from 1998-2001 and was promoted to the MLB coaching staff in 2018 following a short managerial career within their farm system. 

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