It’s happened again. Once again, one of baseball’s superstar talents got put in harms way after being hit by a 98 mile per hour weapon intentionally. This time, it was Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves being beaned in the elbow by Miami’s Jose Urena.
Absolute bush league move by Jose Ureña.
Imagine hitting someone because he’s on an absolute rampage. Pathetic move. pic.twitter.com/2WWZsJQUaj
— #TrustAhmerzProcess (@AhmerzDFS) August 15, 2018
Every time this happens, you have two groups: the portion that thinks hitting guys is “just part of the game” and the people who think the pitcher should be extradited to the moon. While neither of those groups is 100% either right or wrong, something does need to be done, to prevent someone from dying or having their career ended by an intentional fastball.
Players have had their career, and in at least one case their lives, ended by a hit by pitch before. Cleveland’s Ray Chapman died in 1920 after being hit by the Yankees’ Carl Mays. Adam Greenberg was hit in the head by Valerio De Los Santos of the Marlins in the first ever pitch he saw in the big leagues, virtually ending his major league career. Some y consider this intentional, and anti-Semitic in nature due to Greenberg’s following of Judaism, though this was never confirmed. The Marlins would sign him to a one-day contract seven years later to have another plate appearance, but that hit by pitch put him out of the senior circuit for over seven years.
It’s clear to everyone that every trip to the batters’ box is a risk. Anything can happen. However, in the major leagues, you can more-or-less count on pitchers not losing command so bad as to endanger someone’s livelihood. However, likewise, when pitchers try to throw at someone, they aren’t going to miss.
There isn’t a scenario in the real world in which someone can throw a ball at someone 100 miles per hour that wouldn’t end up with that person having a nice night behind bars. However, some of the “old guard” of baseball minds, such as former NL MVP and current SNY baseball analyst Keith Hernandez, have led us to believe that it is “just how you play the game.”
Braves fans please advise. pic.twitter.com/LDHsVPfjDN
— Kyle Sandy (@KyleSandy355) August 16, 2018
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Purpose endangering your opponents is not “how you play” any game.
Even in the NFL, probably the most violent of all American sports, you don’t play to injure other players. And when you do, like the Saints do with Bountygate about 8 years ago, it ends up with the defensive coordinator being suspended a whole season and the coach suspended for a quarter of a season.
However, Jose Urena is not going to be suspended for the whole season, or even a significant chunk of it. Marlins manager Don Mattingly isn’t going to be suspended at all. Quite frankly, the MLB front office does not care enough about the safety of its star players to enforce these rules harshly. Instead, they want to see more brawls, because it is brawling that goes viral on Twitter and gets shown on the prime time edition of SportsCenter. They don’t care about the real-world repercussions if they are profiting from what precipitates them.
Everyone already sees it coming. Jose Urena is going to be suspended 6 games for trying to break the potential NL Rookie Of The Year’s elbow last night. He will miss one start, when Acuna was extremely lucky to avoid a season-ending broken elbow.
It’s not commonplace for an organization like the MLB, but they need to put player safety above profits. One of these days, Mickey Cochrane isn’t going to wake up after being knocked unconscious for over a week after being hit in the helmet. Adam Greenberg’s vertigo suffered after he got hit will completely deteriorate his life. Someone will suffer the same fate as Ray Chapman.
I’m calling on the MLB to adapt their policy when it comes to situations like this, which seem to be happening all too often.
Rule #1) Any pitch that hits a player in the helmet, whether deemed intentional or not, is an automatic ejection followed by a disciplinary hearing with Joe Torre or whoever is in his role at the time. If a pitcher is erratic enough to be hitting a guy in the helmet, he shouldn’t be on the mound.
Rule #2) If an umpire throws a pitcher out of the game, deeming that he threw at a hitter intentionally, both the pitcher and manager (or acting manager) are ejected. This is already the rule when is when it comes to warnings, so expand it to all intentional hit by pitches.
Rule #3) If a pitcher is ejected for intentionally throwing at a hitter, he is met with an automatic four appearance suspension. Pitchers can appeal this suspension, but if they do, they should also run the risk of an arbitrator making the suspension longer, should they go that route.
Rule #4) Any pitcher who injures a player shall remain out until the player they injured comes back, or 81 games, whichever comes first.
Rule #5) Any pitcher suspended for throwing at a hitter is banned from participating in either the all-star game or the postseason that season, pending appeal.
While these rules would not completely prevent moves like throwing at someone else, and probably just spark a new way to piss another team off, it’s a start. It would deter purposely throwing at other people, and at the end of the day, that’s the goal right now.