Major League Baseball announced today that Marlins righty Jose Urena has received a six-game suspension for plunking Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna last night. Atlanta first base coach Eric Young Sr. was also hit with a one-game ban for his role in the ensuing melee.
Depending upon one’s point of view — and everyone seems to have one on this particular subject — the suspension will likely seem appropriate or gallingly short. This is a rather typical MLB punishment for such a transgression. On the other hand, most MLBTR readers preferred a lengthier ban, with nearly three of four poll respondents this morning opining that Urena should miss ten or more games.
A major aspect of this debate, of course, relates to the unique nature of starting pitching. A six-game ban will mean that Urena won’t be able to make his next scheduled start, but he could just wait and throw a few days later. As many have pointed out over the years, then, such a punishment doesn’t seem to deliver much punch as a disincentive.
There is a bit of an intriguing quirk in the Miami schedule that is worth noting: if Urena does not appeal, he’ll first be eligible to return against the Braves. This being the National League, he’d also have to step up to the plate. While karmic thinking is tempting, though, that tends to further perpetuate the intentional plunking approach to self-policing supposed transgressions against the game of baseball.
Notably, the league’s announcement made clear that the commissioner’s office had determined Urena intentionally hit Acuna, who had led off each of the prior three games against the Marlins with a home run. While Urena has not admitted such an intention, and evidently told manager Don Mattingly he was only trying to work inside on Acuna, there really wasn’t much doubt in most minds as to his culpability. The umps working the game sent Urena packing, after all, for evidently trying to send some sort of misguided message. MLBTR’s Steve Adams provided full details on the situation this morning.