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Posey Debate More About Player Than Collision



By Mike Silva ~ May 30th, 2011. Filed under: Mike Silva, Outside the Apple.

The NFL and NHL have all instituted rules to make their games less violent. That’s why I have been careful not to comment on the Buster Posey collision the last few days. The debate about whether it was a clean slide by Florida’s Scott Cousins is not black and white. I wanted to let the facts shake out, think twice, and write once. I have come to the conclusion this situation is more about the fact that Posey is a star catcher. It’s probably is the reason why this play has even sparked a debate. If Eli Whiteside was the recipient of Cousins slide would we be even talking about it? Clearly, a fair question.

I hate to invoke personal experiences when it comes to situations on the field of play. My expertise is not that of a former player – my highest level of play was a travel sandlot team – but I did play in a fairly competitive league. One game, I was facing a team and pitcher that I didn’t like. It was a personal vendetta (another story), but I came up in the middle of the game with the bases loaded and none out. I singled up the middle for two RBI’s. Later in the inning on was on third with less than two outs. A fly ball to left was hit and I took off for home plate. Now I am slow, very slow, so I knew there was going to be a play at the plate. I decided to not slide and elbow the catcher as I ran through the plate. I was safe (the umpire didn’t say anything), and I walked towards the dugout. The catcher was shook up, but continued on. A few innings later I came up to bat and that same pitcher threw at my head. He missed, the message was sent, and we played on. It basically taught me a lesson: play dirty and it will come back at you. No need for legislation to control my actions further.

The point of my story is that a majority of players know the consequences of barreling their way into home plate. The catcher has the protection and will win a majority, if not all, of the time. Do something dirty and there will be consequences the next at bat. The fact that Buster Posey was injured seems more exception than rule. Looking at the replay it appears his leg caught underneath him. It could have happened on a far more benign situation. As a matter of fact, Albert Belle’s elbow to Fernando Vina at second base was far more violent (see the replay here for yourself) than what Cousins did to Posey. What many don’t mention is that Cousins immediately went over to Posey to see if he was alright after the collision. Not the behavior of a thug trying to hurt someone.

If the League begins to legislate home plate collisions, then what about second base? Have you seen how hard some guys slide into the bag? Where was the outcry when the Syracuse player took out Daniel Murphy last year? It cost Murphy the season. What if it was Cousins that separated a shoulder with his actions? Again, not a superstar in the mold of Posey. I could support some legislation that allowed umpires to negate the play if there was intent to injure. I don’t believe I have seen a play in that mold (sans the Belle one) in which that was the case.

The views are mixed around the league. I say you leave the rules alone and let the natural course of consequences take shape. This is not an epidemic like concussions in the NFL and NHL.  I don’t think we would be talking about any of this if it weren’t for the fact that it happened to an up and coming star catcher.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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10 Responses to Posey Debate More About Player Than Collision

  1. Jason

    I think you are absolutely insane for even writing this article. College baseball prohibits collisions with a catcher at home and I don’t feel the game is compromised one bit. Why not protect the players? A rule change doesn’t mean it’s a bad change.

    I have one question, why did they start making players wear helmets? And why did catchers start wearing catchers gear? They used to not wear helmets and catchers gear. They require it to protect the players.

    If a player runs into the fence and tears up their arm/shoulder, that’s on them. Be careful. However, if another player slams into another player (who was clearly giving them an open path to the plate), something has to happen. Carlos Santana got inured last year and it’s a miracle he’s still playing today. Protect your players.

    And if were Jorge Posada that got trucked at home plate, I have a feeling Yankees fans would have a different take on it too.

  2. Paul

    You wrote something that calls me to question your view of cousins not being a dirty player. You state that cousins slid home. That’s not true if you watch the play posey was not blocking the plate he was in front of the plate. Cousins altered his path and dove Into posey head first rolling in mid air to protect himself. Posey’s turn was more defensive trying to brace for the impact. If this is acceptable in baseball then anyone heading to first on an infield grounder should just barrel roll thru the first baseman to prevent to force out he could drop the ball. Oh wait you can’t do that.

    Look cousins is a dirty player and I hope the next time the marlins play the giants cousins has to face the beard and take a 97 mph heater as a reminder that there is no place in baseball for dirty players.

  3. 86mets

    My problem with this debate is that it IS about WHO the player is and NOT the collision itself. If memory serves last season the Nats Nyjer Morgan ran over the Marlins catcher John Baker in what was clearly a dirty slide and Baker was injured and I believe was out the rest of the season. Not one question was raised as to changing the rules aBbout home plate collisions. So it is clearly more about Posey being the unfortunate victim than the collision itself. Furthermore, no one ever talked about a rules change after Pete Rose freight trained Ray Fosse in the All Star game years ago. I am all for protecting the players and if changing the rules about collisions is the way to do it, so be it. But clearly, in this instance it’s more about who was injured.

  4. Kjac22

    Yep – you’re right, this is getting a lot of publicity because it’s Buster Posey. No doubt – but so what? It’s still a valid discussion to have – should baseball continue to allow these types of collisions at home plate? Sometimes it takes a star to get hurt to shine spotlight an important issue. Other sports have moved to protect “defenseless players” – so I don’t think baseball would be unwarranted in changing the rules to protect its players. I don’t know how exactly it would work, but there’s a lot of smart people who could figure it out so it doesn’t take away from the game. It was a freak play, but there have been far too many catchers seriously hurt by being blown up at home plate like this – and it’s especially frustrating when Posey wasn’t even blocking the plate. It wasn’t a “dirty” play but Cousins had the option to slide but instead chose to initiate contact – putting both players at a greater risk.

  5. John Colton

    It was a dirty slide, correction it was a dirty hit.
    A) Posey was not blocking the plate in fact he was between the plate and the pitching mound
    B) There was a wide and clear path to the plate for Cousins
    C) Cousins decided early on in this run to home to go after Posey instead of the plate
    D) He then decided to hit Posey basically in the head with as much force as possible

    Worse is while so many pundits say this was ok, in the rules etc. IN fact the rules do not allow for this check out 7.08(2) – which states if a runner abandon’s his intention to get to the next base then he is out. Cousins should have been called out. Then he should have be thrown out. Then he should have been suspended. Instead he will be praying that he never ever faces the Giants again. Then again he will probably just not play when they do just like when is sat on the bench the next day.

  6. Mike Silva

    John

    What you fail to point out is that Posey did a bad job blocking the plate. Kevin Kennedy talked about this on MLB Radio today. He was up the line in the baserunners path. Posey should have prepared for the collision and shouldn’t have been so limp. Those two factors, combined with his leg getting caught is why he is out for the year.

    Yes, I feel bad for Posey, but I still don’t see anything wrong with the slide. I have heard Kevin Kennedy, Keith Hernandez, and Bob Boone agree. Would Bruce Bochy be saying the same thing if it weren’t Posey? I think not.

    Again, I know it’s your guy, but look at this objectively, compare it to other slides, and tell me if there is anything wrong. Where do we stop with the takeouts? Second base? No more taking out middle infielders? Injuries and contact are part of the game. Ask Cliff Floyd who broke his hand in multiple places thanks to Todd Hundley in 1995.

  7. Kjac22

    Mike
    But I don’t think it was Posey’s intent to block the plate (nor was he). The Giants as an organization have told him NOT to block the plate. He was in a bad position because he got a short hop on the throw and had to move to block the ball while trying to pick it – and he wasn’t expecting to get hit (because he wasn’t blocking the plate). Look at some of the old school catchers – that was blocking the plate. The point is that let’s not pretend that Posey was or was trying to block the plate – because that then suggests Cousins didn’t have a choice. Cousins had to commit early to go for Posey instead of the plate – when a throw has beat you, the fielder catches it (which he didn’t in this case) and is able to apply the tag – you should be out. I don’t think you should be able to forceably dislodge the ball from the fielder – go for the bag/plate. That said – again, it wasn’t dirty/against the rules – but worth discussing if something can be done to prevent this in the future. Just because “injuries and contact” are a part of the game, doesn’t mean the league shouldn’t look to protect its players where possible – the game is constantly evolving – the rules of baseball aren’t set in stone by some biblical act. Maybe it doesn’t make sense – and as you point out, we should let the players/teams regulate themselves (but then you have the umpire warnings, etc that prevent some of that…), but worth a discussion. I think that’s all Bochy wants as well.

  8. Jason

    Mike, the only issue I have with your last statement of “Yes, I feel bad for Posey, but I still don’t see anything wrong with the slide.” It WAS NOT A DANG SLIDE!! Why can’t people understand that? Scott Cousins never slid. He dove shoulder first into Posey and hit him in the throat with his arms. He was not going for the plate. He was trying to knock Posey’s head off. That, to me, is not what baseball is about. And that should be made illegal.

  9. Mark

    I don’t agree with your take on this incident. I think you are completely wrong. Posey was clearly not blocking the plate and Scott was clearly not sliding. In fact he was not even looking for home plate. He had every intention of knocking the ball from Posey by slamming into him and then he intended to touch home plate. This is why he reached back around after the colission to touch the plate. IOW, his primary goal was to deliver a crushing blow to Posey, knock the ball out and then touch the plate.

  10. Jimbo

    The Cousins hit was dirty for reasons that have been pointed out. In the moment though, I think it may have just been poor judgement.

    The Albert Belle hit was not dirty at all. Watch the clip you linked to. In the first play Vina turns a double play. Belle turns and watches this happen, and surely he is seeing that he could’ve stopped the double play from happening. So when the exact same play happens later in the game, why wouldn’t he put the necessary hit on Vina to stop the DP? He didn’t elbow him in the head or anything, he just body-checked him hard enough to prevent the DP. Belle should’ve receive no suspension at all for that play.

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