Quick Note before we begin.  Here’s a rule for catchers straight out of the MLB Rulebook:

“The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.”

With that in mind, let’s take a look at what went wrong, and why the only person at fault is Buster Posey. It’s an easy thing to figure out if you actually watch the video. It was his own fault he got hurt on that play.  

Before you Giants fans freak out and tell me about how Scott Cousins needs to be fined or anything like that, take a look at the video. The sequence of events clearly shows that the injury was a result of Buster Posey making two, very distinct, very bad decisions, and leaving Scott Cousins with only one choice.

Those bad decisions:

1. Posey started in front of the plate. If you talk to any catcher, especially in the majors, they will tell you exactly what you’re supposed to do on a play where the ball is hit to right field with a runner coming home. You are supposed to start behind the plate, so you have a good view of the runner coming, and move forward as the ball comes in. Otherwise, you can’t see him coming at all if you’re looking into right field for the ball. 

Posey didn’t do that. As soon as the ball was hit, he made up his mind that he was going forward, and that he was going to sit on the line and wait for the throw. It goes against common sense as well as baseball playing basics. And don’t give me that crap that it was the speed of the play. That play took a while to develop, and if Posey is as good as everyone claims, he should have known better.

2. Posey didn’t catch the ball, but acted like he did. He didn’t catch the ball. No disputing that. It’s clear that he gave up catching the ball in lieu of taking the hit. Which, by itself, is pure idiocy. Let me explain. If the object is to catch the ball and tag the runner out, and the only way to do that is to take the hit, I get that. But when you don’t catch the ball, doesn’t that make the idea of taking the hit to get the runner out kind of, I don’t know, pointless? But he did it anyway.

After not catching the ball, Posey turned toward Cousins and lowered his shoulder for the hit. Posey wasn’t lying when he said he gave Cousins a lane to slide for the plate. He did. Until the last second, that is. Just before Cousins, who was running full speed toward the plate, gets about two feet away, Buster turns into him. He didn’t even have the ball, why did he turn? He’s good enough to know he didn’t catch the ball. He had no business sliding toward Cousins.

Cousins’ Only Choice

Take a good look at the video. You can clearly see that Cousins was heading toward the outside of the plate, away from Posey. He saw the ball come in, and knowing the caliber of catcher he was up against, assumed Posey would catch the ball. Given how the ball beat him to the plate with a great throw from right field, he had two choices.  

One…go for the head-first slide and pretty much be guaranteed an out. Or two, try to break up the play. Buster Posey made the choice for him. Posey turned into the base path and acted like he had the ball, cutting off Cousins from the plate. Cousins lowered his body to chest level, totally avoiding any head-to-head or shoulder-to-head contact. It was about as clean a hit as you can get between runner and catcher.

The Fallout

I find it funny that no one, with the exception of Giants fans and employees, is demonizing the actual hit. Oh sure, there’s a lot of people out there talking about how the rules need to be changed, or how catchers need to be protected, but that’s the gist of it. 

Anyone who sees the video can see the hit was clean. That’s not really up for debate. What has become the debate, is whether or not we need to change the rules to protect catchers. In my mind, that’s a little bit of an overreaction.  

If this hit happens to Buck, the Marlins catcher, we don’t have this debate. If Buster Posey isn’t the cleanup hitter on the reigning world champions, it’s just another play. But because it happened to a young and promising player like Posey, we should enact rule changes? After 142 years of baseball, we need to change the rules to better protect catchers? I don’t think so.  

Even if we were going to change the rules, what would we change them to?

Let’s say we changed the rule and made it so you are not allowed to hit the catcher. If that were the rule, what would Cousins have had to do? Leap over Posey? He couldn’t have reached the plate without going through him since Buster took it upon himself to step directly in the base path, even though he didn’t even have the ball.

Who would be at fault then? It would have to be Posey. He was in the base path and Cousins didn’t have anywhere to go.

And since Buster Posey himself has said that it was a legal play, why is he complaining? What does he want Cousins to do? Stop making legal plays? He’s being a baby. So is Giants GM Brian Sabean. Injuries happen, guys. Just because they happen to players we love to watch play doesn’t mean we need drastic rule changes.

Major League Baseball survived without Buster Posey for 140 years. It can stand another one.  

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