San Francisco Giants Catcher Buster Posey suffered a serious and probably season ending injury which could also shorten or end his career as a catcher at the hands of Florida Marlins Outfielder Scott Cousins. Catching is inherently the most dangerous position to play on the baseball or for that matter the softball diamond especially when they a runner is coming down third base hard and they are trying to make a play on a throw coming from right field. In such a situation the catcher is terribly exposed to injury from collisions at home plate. This is part of the game but there are times that a runner takes advantage of that to level a catcher even when it is not necessary.
The hit that Scott Cousins put on Posey was devastating and uncalled for as Posey was not blocking the plate. In fact Cousins went out of his way to smash into Posey when he could have easily scored with a clean slide. Posey was not blocking the plate and did not have control of the ball. Why baseball experts are divided on the hit with some shrugging their shoulders and simply saying that it is part of the game and others calling the hit dirty. I watched the video of the play again and again. In my opinion it was dirty and uncalled for. Cousins says that he didn’t mean to cause the injury but watching the play, the hit and Cousins facial expression going in and reaction after the game I have a hard time believing it. He’s from the Bay area and played his college ball at San Francisco and he had friends and family at the game. If you ask me he was trying to make a splash for them. Cousins who is hitting .157 on the year and has a .227 Mendoza line average in his second major league season was unlikely to do something with his bat so why not take out one of baseball’s premier young catchers? I could be wrong but I don’t believe him. He got noticed alright and if I am the Giants I am planning for my next encounter with Cousins and the Marlins.
I have seen other catchers suffer terrible injuries at the hands of similar hits. I remember the 1970 All Star Game vividly when Pete Rose destroyed Ray Fosse behind home plate. Last August Cleveland catcher Carlos Santana was seriously injured in a collision at the plate. There have been others but the one that really sticks in my mind is me.
In 1979 while playing catcher in a Church Softball League and having the best season in baseball or softball that I had before or since I was run over at home plate. The hit was premeditated and easily avoidable as I was off the line and actually in the air trying to catch a high throw coming in from center field. I wish I still had the photo that a friend took of the collision. My assailant was a foot taller than me and outweighed me by at least 70 pounds. Instead of sliding which would have been easy he put his shoulder down and leveled me sending me flying backward and causing me to break my right wrist. He then had the nerve to point and laugh. I tried to stay in the game and shake off the injury but I had to walk the ball out to the pitcher and thankfully the next batter went out quick. I led off the next inning but when I tried to swing my hand came off the bat and I hit a tapper down the third base line to the player that injured me. I beat out the throw and the asshole tried to have me called out for “bunting.” I went ballistic and was removed from the game by our coach before the umpire could throw me out as I was leaving the base and was heading to third to lay into the player. It was an unusual fracture which ended my season as the casting had to set the bone in such a way that I could do nothing with my right hand for a month.
My experience colors my perception of this kind of hit and I cringe every time I see a catcher from any team get hit in this manner. While such plays are fast to occur with little time to think a player that has the time to put his shoulder down to maximize the effect of the hit has the time to do something else. I think that collisions at the plate are an inherent part of the game and cannot be avoided. At the same time Major League Baseball can outlaw the squaring of the shoulder to hit a catcher. If a runner wants to come in hard with a slide be it head first or otherwise fine, but no football type blocks. I have no problem with going in hard and when I play I do it all the time but I have not and will not drop my shoulder to level an exposed catcher. Such a rule would be easy to police and it would not matter if the hit was intentional or not, level the shoulder get thrown out, injure a player doing so get a stiff fine and even bigger if there was a straight shot to the plate like in the case of the Cousins-Posey collision.
There is no good reason that I can see to continue to allow such hits. Simply because we have always done it is not a good reason. The injuries are all too real and all too devastating. Heck even the NFL has figured out that certain kinds of hits are so dangerous that big fines and penalties can be leveled against offending players and is considering expanding those to the teams themselves. Some players don’t like it but why should players be damaged for life simply because it’s “part of the game?”
I hope that Posey recovers and can resume his catching career next year and he probably will not be able to do so this year. If not he may be relegated to First Base and that would be a shame for him, the Giants and the game of baseball.
What else needs to happen to get people to take this seriously? Violent hits are not good for baseball.
That’s my opinion and some will think that it stinks but I don’t care.
For the love of the game,