Keith Hernandez comments on Ronald Acuña Jr. being plunked should be decried

(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images) /

Keith Hernandez decided to let the world know how he felt about Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. being intentionally hit by a pitch, and in doing so he revealed his ignorance.

Baseball fans have been treated to an exceptional young talent this year in Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. The Atlanta rookie has done more than his share in lifting the once-mighty Braves back into prominence in the National League East, and plays the game with the type of joy and excitement that’s good for Major League Baseball.

In contrast, the Miami Marlins sit dead last – both in record and in attendance – and have made a curious habit this season out of intentionally beaning opposing batters to express their displeasure with being the scourge of the league.

Acuña has owned the Marlins this year, and in particular, during this most recent series at SunTrust Park. The rookie had homered in five straight games, including leading off both games of a Monday double-header with a home run.

So, obviously, the solution to bringing a halt to Acuna’s recent tear wasn’t to pitch better or even intentionally walk him…it was to intentionally throw at him.

That’s what Marlins pitcher Jose Ureña did, and he did it with the hardest first pitch he’s thrown all season long – topping 97 mph – aimed directly at the Braves batter, hitting him in the arm as Acuña twisted his body to avoid the poison projectile.

As expected, benches cleared, obscenities were shouted, shoving commenced, and players and managers were ejected. The only thing missing were fans bringing up the old “unwritten rules” argument, saying that plunking batters is a part of the game.

But instead of fans throwing that tired and barbaric narrative out there, it was former MLB first baseman and current New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez adding some machismo and moustache hubris to the conversation.

Hernandez is a relic from a bygone era of subtleties and unwritten rules which need to be forgotten and placed in an MLB Jurassic Park. The “code” Hernandez so glibly mentions during his commentary is not and should not be a part of today’s game.

There are no “unwritten rules” there are only dumb traditions that have no place in professional sports and that put players at risk for the sake of what amounts to a schoolyard mentality.

From AP sportswriter, Paul Newberry:

"“Instead of a typical suspension that might cost Urena a start or two, the lords of discipline at MLB need to really bring the hammer down. Send a message, once and for all, that this sort of Neanderthal-like behavior will no longer be tolerated.”"

It’s dangerous. It’s archaic. It’s inexcusable, and Ureña should face a severe penalty for his actions, while Hernandez should get more than just a reprimand from the Mets for his support of such a vicious practice.

Hernandez attempted to fluff his comments by adding that pitches should never be thrown at a batter’s head.


The idea that a pitcher who exhibits average to possibly above-average control at his best could predetermine not only where a 97 mph fastball was going to land but also how the hitter would react as it was screaming towards his body is ludicrous. Not even Greg Maddux had that kind of control and foresight.

This wasn’t a 79 mph Phil Niekro knuckleball floating its way toward Acuna, or a Tom Glavine changeup dropping down by his feet. This wasn’t even an aging Al Leiter junkball. This was a fastball thrown with everything Ureña had in his fresh arm. A pitch that – had things gone wrong – could have inflicted some serious damage to Acuña.

The public should decry  Hernandez’s comments, and he – along with any other former players who support this ridiculous “code” – should be put out to pasture along with their imaginary book of unwritten rules.

Next. Every MLB Team's Unsung Hero in 2018. dark

In hindsight, maybe it was actually Hernandez who spit on Kramer and Newman on that fateful day. I absolve you, Roger McDowell.