Adressing the Posey play

I appologize for those who are tired of the Buster Posey play that happened over a week ago being beaten to death. You don’t have to read this. But now is my turn to beat the dead horse.

It’s a bang-bang play we see a thousand times. A runner flying around third with only one thing on his mind: being safe at all costs. A catcher who’s eyes are on the outfield waiting for the ball to reach him, praying the runner is sliding in.

The plate is blocked but there was room on the outside to slide in. The runner opted to blow up the catcher, guaranteeing him not being tagged out.

The throw was behind the catcher and from right field. Being from right field is dangerous enough. But when you factor in the throw was behind the catcher, it exposes him to more danger.

The result of the play was a collision that will ultimately change the catcher’s season and the season for his team.

Now insert the names of the players involved and this scenario, which is like many others, now stands out more significantly than the rest. Scott Cousins was the bench player for the Florida Marlins who ran over one of the best young players in the game and the San Francisco Giants’ prized possession in Buster Posey.

But this piece isn’t addressing a rule change in baseball or for the head of Cousins. Instead, it’s addressing the people who want to see catchers get put on the same wussy pedestal as quarterbacks and goalies.

Could Cousins slide in? No doubt. But that was made a possibility when Posey had to reach back for a poorly thrown ball by right fielder Nate Schierlholtz. That gives Cousins a split second to react when he already had it set in his mind a collision may be necessary.

Giants GM Brian Sabean recently commented on the play: “I don’t blame [Posey]. Why not be hard-nosed? If I never hear from Cousins again or he never plays another day in the big leagues, I think we’ll all be happy.”

That’s nice, Sabean. Now shut up.

Posey wasn’t innocent in the play and Carlos Ruiz of the Philadelphia Phillies expressed that. Ruiz is a catcher and he gets hit a lot. But why hasn’t he gotten hurt? Because he practices proper techinique.

In an interview with Ryan Lawrence of the DelCo Times, Chooch talked about properly blocking the plate:

“(The Phillies) teach you when you first get in the minor leagues, we work on it a lot, how to block home plate,” Carlos Ruiz said. “The one thing I learned is to stay down, you’re not going to get hurt (if you get in proper position).”

Ruiz showed what he meant — staying on his feet but getting into a mid-crouch, with his knees bent. When the baserunner makes contact, “you roll back, with the runner.”

Although there’s still the chance for an injury, staying on your feet and not dropping to your knees keeps your ankles in a less vulnerable position. But as Ruiz said, “sometimes it happens in a split second” and catchers have little time to react.

Kyle Scott of Crossing Broad then posted some quotes from both Chooch and bull pen coach Mick Billmeyer, who caught in the majors. Both don’t feel the rules need to be changed.

The quotes come from Philly.com‘s Paul Hagen:

“When the game is on the line, I don’t think you’re going to [do anything differently]. You’re the catcher. You’re going to want to stay there. You’re going to stay because you want to win. So it’s hard to think that way because everything happens real fast,” he added philosophically.

“If not, don’t be a catcher. If you’re going to catch, you have to love catching. Everything about it. It’s hard. It’s not easy. But you have to do it.”

Damn straight, Chooch. And from Billmeyer:

“I think it’s just part of the game,” he said. “And I’ll be honest with you. He’s the cleanup hitter in their lineup. I’m not sure they’re talking about it day in and day out if it’s the backup catcher. If it was Eli Whiteside or Dane Sardinha or Brian Schneider, I don’t think they’d talk about it.”

And this is why I have a problem with the unnecessary attention this has garnered. I love Posey and the way he plays the game. But this wouldn’t be an issue if it were some scrub catcher getting run over.

In the NFL, when did quarterbacks all of a sudden start wearing invisible red jerseys in the games on Sunday? After a defensive lineman rolled up on Tom Brady’s leg, tearing his ACL in Week 1 of the 2009 NFL season.

Could this play have been prevented on Cousins’ part? Yes. Was Posey a victim of an unfortunate play? Yes. But is this anything new? No. Were the death threats and Sabean’s stupid comments necessary? No.

Don’t change anything, baseball.

The play via MLB.com

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