The Braves Had to Sit Ronald Acuna on Sunday Whether You Agree or Not
(Ed note: I don't remember the key combination to put the tilde above the N on his name--sorry)
Baseball is a peculiar sport with a set of "Unwritten" rules that nobody outside the game really understands and as I've said multiple times---are often just stupid for the sake of being stupid.
Sunday afternoon something came up with budding Atlanta Braves star Ronald Acuna that didn't just bend one of those rules---it bent one of the cardinal rules of sport PERIOD. You ALWAYS hustle or at least look like you are.
In case you missed it, in the 3rd inning of a super important game between the upstart Braves and National League's most dominant team--The Los Angeles Dodgers. Acuna arguably cost his time at least one run by not running out a ball he seemed to be admiring after he hit it thinking it would be a home run. The pitch went a long, long way but eventually bounced off the Sun Trust Park wall ending up a really, really long single. The Braves were down 3-1 at the time.
To make matters worse, a couple pitches later, Acuna tried to steal 2nd base and was caught. Inning essentially over.
Team Manager Brian Snitker let him go back out onto the field for the top of the 4th inning but after coming off the field, the two went into the tunnel and had a discussion about what happened. It would be the last time Acuna would be seen Sunday afternoon on the field.
Not everyone was happy---or even understood what was going on. 1B Freddie Freeman questioned his boss about what was going on too.
The Braves would come back and win the game thanks to a Grand Slam HR by Raphael Ortega and a stellar performance by their heavily maligned bullpen, 5-3. But the only thing anyone could talk about was "The Incident".
Acuna for his part totally understood the call and took responsibility for his mistake. For that he should be applauded. Hopefully we'll not see it happen again.
(No, the Bart Simpson t-shirt isn't a good look---but for now, let's not read anything into it)
The disturbing part to me, and I guess it shouldn't have surprised me was the vitriol and whining from fans about what happened. So many people were complaining how "Stupid" it was to bench your best player in one of the seasons biggest games. So many didn't see any problem with Acuna not running out the play and either weren't interested in or didn't care about the much bigger picture---one with multiple layers to it.
Hey, maybe it's a generational thing. It seems like younger folks don't get it. Doing this has nothing to do with the game that particular day. Professional Baseball is not a day-to-day game/event, it's a marathon. It's a long season and in the case of Acuna---he's going to be in Atlanta for a long, long time. Something like this can't happen in a game whether it be against the Dodgers or the Marlins. Period.
If he let's it slide, Brian Snitker becomes an afterthought as the team manager. The perception becomes "Hey, if Acuna can do it, so can I". You cannot have that on a team. Period. It doesn't matter who you are playing at the end of the day. End of argument.
Look at it this way: If you're boss assigns you to a project to say for example, bid on something that could make the company a Million dollars. You complete a proposal but do the bare minimum required to get it done. Another company walks in with a much more detailed proposal and gets the contract. The client then shows your boss the difference between the projects. There's a good chance you aren't going to get to be the lead on the next proposal.
But say nothing happens and the next business deal could be worth $100 million....and the same thing happens. Does your boss ignore it and move on or does he say something? Particularly if there are other people maybe not as qualified but far more eager to work their tails off to do it and the whole staff knows it?? If the boss sides with you, there's a good chance nobody else in your office will respect the boss ever again.
Which is for all practical purposes is what happened here.
Acuna, for all his talent and ability is not bigger than the team. If this happened with say Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, I'd be willing to bet money the exact same thing happens.
By arguing "It was a must win" game for the Braves---you play to the fallacy of not knowing what you're talking about. If ANY of you played an organized team sport at any level, you've seen someone yanked from a game for not hustling or making a bunch of bad decisions that could cost you a game. It's part of Sport at ALL levels in every game.
So to say Brian Snitker didn't care about the effect on the other guys on his team is arguably a really bad joke. It's the EXACT reason he pulled Acuna. If he let what happened slide, it gives every last one of them afterwards an excuse to not hustle, to not give max effort, to not play hard because they wouldn't get penalized or chewed out for it. It doesn't matter if it is game #1, game #82 or game #152, it has to be done.
I hope now that this is history it will remain history. Acuna is not the first Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer or any other sport participant to get benched for lack of effort. He won't be the last. Team sports are about successfully managing a roster of players to get the best out of each any every person. The only way you can be successful doing it is by not treating one person totally different than everyone else no matter what their status. Period. It's what being a professional in Sports...and in your chosen profession means.
Period, end of debate.....