Blame MLB And Players Association For Buster Posey's Injury

Giants fans might want to blame Scott Cousins for Buster Posey's devastating injury, but the real fault lies with Major League Baseball and the Players Association, which has done nothing to limit the sort of violence we saw Wednesday night.

As I so often do, this morning I turned to Joe Sheehan, for his take on the truly terrible thing that happened to Buster Posey last night.

(Frankly, I should have written something much earlier than now, but I fell asleep just before it happened, and so I was basically the last baseball writer in America to see the clip and hope for the best but expect the worst.)

Here's Joe, sensible as ever:

I'll reiterate here what I said on Twitter last night: Cousins' play was clean, looking to jar the ball loose from Posey. (Posey, it turns out, never had the ball, but Cousins could not have seen that in time.) He didn't throw an elbow or go high. There is no reason at all to call him out for what happened to Posey. My only criticism of him, and this is independent of what happened, is that his decision to after Posey rather than the plate seemed to have been predetermined. As it turned out, Posey was a bit out of position, in front of and to the first-base side of the plate, which gave Cousins a clear path to the plate from the outside. Had Cousins read Posey's position, he might have slid or dove for home, outside of Posey's reach, and had a better chance of being safe on a clean catch by Posey. The collision did not enhance Cousins' chances of being safe, and in my opinion, took him away from a plate he could have reached more easily.


The majority of catcher injuries on plays at the plate come due to the de facto legalization of obstruction, in which a catcher sets up without the baseball and impedes the runner's progress to home whether the ball is there or not. This was not one of those cases. Posey didn't obstruct, he just got hit while in no position to brace himself for the contact and while in an awkward stance. He got hit cleanly by a runner who was anticipating a tag play.

Not everything has to be a controversy. Posey didn't cheat. Cousins didn't play dirty. It was just a baseball play with an unfortunate outcome. Let's hope we get good news on Posey today: there's no fan allegiance that can make an injury to a young star anything but sad.

Well, we didn't get good news. We didn't get good news, at all.

I can't really disagree with anything that Joe has written here. I think Cousins' play was sorta dirty, except you can't really fault him because what he did is considered perfectly acceptable within the game. If Cody Ross had done exactly the same thing to John Buck, Bruce Bochy would have been thrilled. Not with the injury. But with Ross's effort.

It should be considered a dirty play, though.

And I'm not the only one. From one Buster this morning, we have a perfectly reasonable reaction from another Buster's agent:

Posey's agent, Jeff Berry, said Thursday morning he is going to reach out to Joe Torre, leader of on-field operations for Major League Baseball, and raise the idea of changing the rules regarding plays at the plate.

Over time, it is has become accepted practice for catchers to block home plate, and for baserunners to launch themselves into catchers.

"You leave players way too vulnerable," Berry said. "I can tell you Major League Baseball is less than it was before [Posey's injury]. It's stupid. I don't know if this ends up leading to a rule change, but it should. The guy [at the plate] is too exposed.

"If you go helmet to helmet in the NFL, it's a $100,000 fine, but in baseball, you have a situation in which runners are [slamming into] fielders. It's brutal. It's borderline shocking. It just stinks for baseball. I'm going to call Major League Baseball and put this on the radar. Because it's just wrong."

Of course it's wrong. Baseball was not designed, and is not best played, as a contact sport.

Catchers should not be allowed to block home plate without the ball, and in fact the rules prohibit them from doing exactly that. But the umpires allow them to block the plate -- this is what Joe refers to as "the de facto legalization of obstruction" -- and this leads to a serious injury or two every season.

Runners should not be allowed to devastate catchers. They should not be allowed to devastate catchers who are blocking the plate, and they absolutely should not be allowed to devastate catchers who are not blocking the plate.

Watch the play again. Buster Posey did not have the ball. Buster Posey was not blocking the plate. Scott Cousins had to alter his path to slam into Buster Posey. But you can't really fault Scott Cousins because his behavior has become normal.

It should not be normal, or acceptable. Major League Baseball and the Players Association should get together, after the season if not immediately, and put an end to his unofficially codified insanity.

I would love to know how Joe Torre responds to Jeff Berry's entreaties. Torre's an old Baseball Man, and a catcher at that. He might even be a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist.

On the other hand, Joe Torre seems to possess a bit more sensitivity than your average old-school Baseball Man, and perhaps his innate compassion will move him to consider the plight of the next young catcher whose season -- and perhaps career -- is destroyed because of an utterly indefensible tradition that adds an occasional jolt of excitement but far, far too often robs the sport of incredible talent, with the indefinite loss of a Rookie of the Year only the latest and most saddening example.

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