Hitting Braves' Ronald Acuna was either pathetic or reckless, and now MLB needs to make an example out of Jose Urena

On Wednesday night, Marlins starter Jose Urena dotted Braves star rookie Ronald Acuna with his only pitch of the game: 

Urena, who was ejected after the benches cleared, told reporters after the game that the pitch was an accident and he feels "pretty bad," but that's not good enough for the commissioner's office. He's going to be suspended by Major League Baseball and I'm already anticipating the punishment not being harsh enough. 

Fortunately, Acuna escaped serious injury and is listed as day to day. 

That doesn't mean this is acceptable. The punishment shouldn't be based on the resulting injury or lack thereof. 

This wasn't even a retaliation. Acuna had gone 8 for 13 with a double, four homers, nine RBI and seven runs scored in the previous three games against the Marlins. He was on a historic streak with leadoff home runs. 

And then, the first pitch he sees comes straight at him. It was the single hardest pitch Urena has ever thrown to start a game. What a coincidence, huh? (Please note dripping sarcasm). 

If this was an intentional as it looks, it's the height of cowardice. 

I can't believe we have to keep going over this, but there's still a portion of the baseball-viewing community that thinks it somehow makes someone tough to throw a ball at someone from over 60 feet away. It's jaw-dropping ignorance. My go-to analogy here is to picture kids on a playground who have a problem with each other and are on the verge of throwing down. One runs 60 feet away and throws a rock at the other. In what world would the general reaction be, "what a rebel!" 

No, that's a punk move. Again, it's pure cowardice. 

What makes it even worse here is that it seemingly comes from a place of "this guy is striking fear into us, so let's return the favor!" 

The message is that it's not OK to be good at your job in Major League Baseball without physical retribution? 

Again, this is unbelievable cowardice. 

Urena had the chance to be the guy to break Acuna's leadoff homer streak. Succeeding instead of throwing in the towel is what tough guys do. Go strike him out. Be the one who gets the job done. 

Hitting a guy on purpose to send a message is incredibly weak. I still can't believe people who fancy themselves tough think it's cool. 

Now, if we are to believe Urena that it was an accident and he was just coming inside, that's also reckless. He leads the majors in hit batsmen in 2017-18 combined. He has bad command, so going inside at 97.5 miles per hour was irresponsible. I'm a big merit guy and an MLB pitcher needs to have enough command in order to earn the right to come inside like this. Urena hasn't done so -- again, check the HBP numbers -- meaning he should be punished even if this was a "mistake." 

This is the perfect time for the league to establish that it is no longer putting up with this nonsense. Almost everyone is on Acuna's side and against Urena. This wasn't "self-policing" with a retaliation pitch. Marlins manager Don Mattingly wasn't exactly defending Urena after the game. The Marlins aren't contending. Urena has knack for hitting batters. 

Taking in the full picture here, there shouldn't be much backlash to a long suspension from pretty much any point of view. Sure, there might be a vocal minority, but overwhelming majority of players, former players, fans and media would likely be on board with a long suspension.

Further, Urena is a starting pitcher. He'd only be going once every five games anyway. A 10-game suspension means he misses one turn in the rotation. Twenty means only three and getting pushed back a bit. 

Thirty. Let's go with 30 games, Major League Baseball. There was no defense of Urena's pitch and it's high time MLB started putting in deterrent measures for such cowardice. Make this a precedent because next time it could be a broken arm or -- much worse -- a pitcher with Urena's awful command misses and hits a guy in the head with 97. 

This is a hanging curveball, MLB. Don't miss it. Crush it. 

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Snyder has been a baseball writer with CBS Sports since 2011. A member of the BBWAA, he's now covered every World Series since 2010. The former Indiana University baseball player now lives on the... Full Bio

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