Imagine that someone just asked you to think of the most heated rivalries in Major League Baseball. One of the first that probably came to your mind was the fierce rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Or, maybe you thought of the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals. There are definitely plenty of great rivalries that have evolved over the years, but arguably the most exciting and entertaining rivalry that has materialized in the past couple seasons has been between two players. That rivalry would indeed be Atlanta Braves reigning Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuña Jr. versus Miami Marlins hurler Jose Ureña.
Ronald Acuña versus Jose Ureña
The First Altercation
August 15th — the day it all started. Acuña was on a tear coming into the game. He had homered in five straight games — becoming the youngest player in MLB history to accomplish this feat — as well as homering in the lead-off spot twice in a doubleheader the day before. So, Ureña decided he wasn’t going to become Acuña’s next victim and decided to take matters into his own hands.
The first pitch from Ureña was the fastest pitch he had thrown all year — registering at 97.5 mph, and it drilled Acuña near his left elbow. After remaining on the ground for a few minutes, Acuña eventually got up and walked to first base. On the way to first, Acuña tossed his protective wrap on the mound. As one would expect, this turned into both teams clearing the benches. No punches were thrown, but obviously, both Braves players and coaches were furious with Ureña. Especially angry were Braves manager Brian Snitker and first-base coach Eric Young, who both wanted to take a shot at the Marlins pitcher. After plenty of yelling, the umpires huddled, and, after discussion, ejected Ureña from the game. Acuña later left the game with left elbow discomfort.
The Braves Take Exception
This disgraceful move from Ureña was in no doubt, intentional and erroneous. Acuña had done nothing to deserve this despicable act. Throwing at someone isn’t justified just because he’s hitting the ball out of the park. And the Braves definitely took exception to it.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever felt like that in a baseball game before. It’s just my emotion,” Snitker said. “That kid didn’t deserve that. There’s just no reason for a young man to be hit like that when all he’s doing is playing the game.”
The Braves Retaliate
The Braves attempted to get revenge the first time they saw Ureña take the mound in 2019. Atlanta pitcher Kevin Gausman tried to bean Ureña in his first at-bat, but the pitch missed as it sailed behind him. Gausman was immediately ejected from the game.
Here’s the pitch behind Jose Ureña that got Kevin Gausman ejected. pic.twitter.com/VDXV8GBHQm
— FOX Sports: Braves (@FOXSportsBraves) May 3, 2019
The Braves might’ve missed their chance with Ureña in the box, but instead got their payback with a couple of home run swings from Freeman and Brian McCann, and went on to beat Ureña 7-2.
Ronald Acuña Gets Retribution
However, the real revenge for Acuña came when he went 2-3 off Ureña on Friday, including a solo blast that Acuña enjoyed, to say the least. In the top of the 4th, Acuña smashed a line-drive homer that he finished off with an emphatic bat flip as he was nearing first-base, as well as pointing to the dugout and yelling a few remarks to his teammates. Acuña also had a few words to the camera when he returned to the dugout.
That had to feel good. ? pic.twitter.com/mQseziRclp
— MLB (@MLB) June 8, 2019
Acuña downplayed the bat flip in his post-game comments, saying, “I always try to play with passion any time I take the field.” However, there’s no doubt that this home run was extra special for Acuña.
Ureña also noticed the flip, saying, “If he feels good with that, good for him, that’s part of the game.”
Is This Finally Over?
It’s more than likely that this dispute is finally over. It’s hard to believe that Ureña would try to intentionally hit Acuña again and face another backlash — even after the bat flip. For Acuña, every time he faces Ureña, he will definitely have bad intentions for the baseball. With that said, whatever happens in the future between these two is uncertain, but for now, Acuña has had the last laugh.
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