Just this week a collision between San Fransisco Giants’ “Rookie of the Year” catcher, Buster Posey, and Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins has sparked a serious debate in the world of professional baseball. As we’ve probably seen a 1000 times before, Posey and Cousins shared a violent, crashing exchange at homeplate that was the difference between winning and losing. However, the only person that really lost was Posey because the blow fractured his left fibula and tore three ligaments in his left ankle, thus ending his season and maybe even his career (though we really hope not).
The injury was gruesome and somber for Giants fans who were very quite after watching their prodigious son of a player carried off the field. It was taken just as bleakly by the players in the locker room. The normal antics and shenanigans were gone and a curtain of solidarity raised, as joker players like Brian Wilson turned off his usual blaring rock tunes in the locker room and could hardly look at each other, even less reporters in the wake of the tragedy.
Manager Bruce Bochy however was vocal saying: “It’s part of baseball, I understand that, guys running into catchers. Being a catcher, I’ve been in a few of them. You’re in harm’s way there…I think we do need to consider changing the rules here a little bit because the catcher is so vulnerable and there’s so many who have gotten hurt. And not just a little bit, had their careers ended or shortened.”
Marlins player Scott Cousins is actually a local and huge fan of the Giants and Posey and called Posey twice that night to apologize and leave messages with Giants trainers for his part. Cousins was quoted saying, “The last thing I wanted to do was break a guy’s leg,” as tears welled in his eyes.
But the reality is that you have managers like Mike Scioscia and Terry Francona that agree with players around the league like Brandon Inge that it is part of the game. Inge commented on the potential rule change and catcher collisions in general saying: “You’re going to change the rules of a game that’s had a tradition of a hundred and some years…Give me a break on that. That’s ridiculous. Here’s the deal: A lot of guys nowadays, when they’re playing, don’t take responsibility for their own actions. You’re a catcher. You already know coming into it that you could get run over, so you take the precautions.”
In the end, MLB acknowledges that what happened to Buster Posey and catchers all the time is a tragedy, but they show no signs of trying to put new rules in place to protect catchers from injuries at homeplate during collisions. And the general consensus around the league is that it is part of the game, part of what must be done to win, and at that level of competition is a necessary evil.
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