My favorite play in baseball, and maybe in all of sports, is the play at the plate. Whether it’s on an inside-the-park home run or just a runner scoring from second on a base hit, the excitement, drama and tension of that one brief moment is absolutely captivating.
In Wednesday night’s Giants-Marlins game, Buster Posey and Scott Cousins collided at home plate in the 12th inning. Posey is already one of the game’s elite players in just his second year. He tried to block the plate to stop the go-ahead run and the only thing he got was an “out for the season” t-shirt.
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I am shocked! I am outraged! I am incensed! I am furious! (Special thanks to www.Thesaurus.com)
I used to be of the mindset that this was just one of those things that happens and that it’s a bummer when someone gets injured in a collision, but when the best players in the world (and Scott Cousins) are playing at the highest level sometimes, someone gets injured.
And most fans (about 80 percent according to ESPN.com) also think that these season-ending collisions are just part of the game. But these are the same teeming masses who have made millionaires out of Ke$ha and Ryan Seacrest and the three-headed monster called The Kardashian.
After Wednesday night, like a politician seeking re-election from a disgruntled constituency, I have changed sides on the issue. And I swear this has nothing to do with me having Buster Posey on my third-place fantasy baseball team. No connection at all. I just care about the health of these people who I’ve never met and who play on teams that I don’t root for. He’s a human being! Frankly, I’m appalled that you would think that about me.
Do we actually need a “new” rule here? The catcher is blocking the plate — in baseball terminology he is “obstructing the plate.” Per the current rules, the runner is automatically safe. And if this “blocking” went on at any other base, we would all cry foul. Can you imagine seeing a batter hauling butt down the first base line to leg out a single and then all he has to do is get through Ryan Howard?
Also, this thing where a runner heading home lowers his shoulder in an attempt to knock the catcher into the next area code doesn’t seem too sportsmanlike. Again, at any other base, the player would be out — and probably out of the game.
Baseball history is littered with sad stories of catchers being injured in home-plate collisions. Just last year, the Indians’ Carlos Santana was knocked out for the season when the Red Sox third base coach – who apparently was afflicted with some sort of depth perception malfunction or just some mild mental retardation – sent Ryan Kalish home from third base. Kalish was going to be out by so much that all he could do was try to collide with the catcher and knock the ball loose.
Somewhat famously, Pete Rose did this in an All-Star Game and ruined the career of a promising young catcher named Ray Fosse. Fortunately for Ray, he went on to have a heck of a career as a dance choreographer. (Editors note: You’re thinking of Bob Fosse.) (Note to Editor: No, I’m pretty sure it was Ray.) (Editor’s note: Not at all – please take five seconds and check the Internet.)
Whenever something like this happens to a player (the collision, not the dance choreography), there is always an immediate demand from the media that the rules be changed. And then there’s the immediate backlash of fans and players and really old guys who say, “This is part of the game! We can’t just go around changing the rules!”
We can’t just go around changing rules? What?! This is America — we can do whatever we want! I hate to agree with the media about anything, but how many players needed to get knocked unconscious before baseball switched to protective helmets? How many busted testicles were needed before players started wearing cups? How many Nolan Ryan’s needed to be bitten by a coyote before we stop thinking this is all just part of the game?
And how many catchers need to get crushed at home plate before we change something? Let me know what that number is.
In the meantime, I gotta go see if anyone in my fantasy league will trade me a catcher.