New York Mets broadcaster Keith Hernandez had no problem with the Miami Marlins seemingly intentionally hitting Atlanta Braves rookie Ronald Acuña Jr. with their first pitch Wednesday night.
In fact, the former major leaguer said it had to happen after Acuña crushed four homers against Miami in the first three games of their series.
“They’re killing you. You’ve lost three games. He’s hit three home runs. You gotta hit him,” Hernandez said while calling the Mets game against the Baltimore Orioles.
Marlins starter Jose Urena drilled Acuña with a first-pitch 97.5 mph fastball in Wednesday’s game after Acuña led off the previous three games with a homer. Urena was immediately ejected and both teams were warned after the benches emptied. Acuña initially stayed in the game but was removed before the next defensive inning.
The Braves were not pleased with the Marlins actions. Most baseball fans echoed their disgust after seeing the pitch and the pain Acuña was in. That didn’t stop Hernandez from defending Miami’s pitch, intentional or otherwise.
Hernandez added: “I’m sorry. People are not going to like that. You gotta hit him, or at least knock him down. I mean seriously knock him down if you don’t hit him. You never throw at anybody’s head or neck. You hit him in the back or hit him in the fanny.”
It’s the typical tough guy speak we’ve heard from many “old school” players. If a player’s beating you, you have to send a message letting them know you won’t stand for it. The message they speak of almost always comes in the form of intentionally throwing at a batter to make him less comfortable in the batter’s box.
Hernandez tried to soften his take by saying a pitch should never be thrown at the head or neck area, but he’s still well off the mark. That’s because any pitch intentionally thrown at a batter brings the risk of injury. It doesn’t matter where the pitcher is aiming. He could be well off the mark too, leading to a player being unintentionally hit in the head or neck.
Hernandez is far from the only broadcaster to advocate hitting a batter intentionally. Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez endorsed Joe Kelly’s plunking of former Yankees first baseman Tyler Austin earlier this season. Martinez said the only thing he would have done differently is he would have hit Austin sooner. That incident stemmed from an aggressive slide the Red Sox didn’t appreciate.
Regardless of the circumstances, there’s no way to truly justify throwing at a batter intentionally. When it’s done because a batter is simply beating you with his superior talent, it comes across as even more cowardly. To defend it or advocate for it is to admit being sorely out of touch.
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