The Dord of Darien

Musings from the Mayor of the Internet


I wash wring my hands of it

Buster Posey done got hisself messed up right sharp. You heard about this? Scott Cousins running home, Posey blocks the plate, collision, and that’s it for his season; he’ll miss the rest of the year with a broken leg. No bones about it: that sucks for Posey, and it sucks for the Giants. It also sucks for rational, thinking people, who don’t believe that the best thing to do when something bad happens is slam that barn door shut with a bunch of shortsighted new regulations.

Enter Dave Cameron, making the case for people who haven’t thought this out very well.

I’m not the first person to say this today, and I’m sure I won’t be the last, but it’s hard to watch the collision at home plate last night that broke Buster Posey’s leg and think anything besides "that should not be part of baseball."

I left out the link to the clip, because I’m not trying to sell you something by shocking you into accepting it. Unlike somebody I know!

That aside, I was thinking something besides that. I was thinking about, you know, Buster Posey, and how much it sucks to be him. I was not thinking about taking advantage of this opportunity to engineer society for great justice. Unlike somebody I know!

Let’s set aside blame for a second; I’m not here to vilify Scott Cousins, the player’s association, or the rules committee.

Yes you are.

Cousins did what he’s been trained to do, he did it because it’s a legal play by the rulebook, and he was trying to help his team win a baseball game. However, I just don’t see any reason why that play should be allowed in the sport.

In other words: you’re vilifying the rules committee. Which is fine; I mean, blowhards gonna blow hard, y’know? But here’s the key: that play is allowed because there is no sensible alternative. Baseball, David, is not football. There are not coordinated playbooks. The Marlins didn’t have a huddle and decide to put on the ol’ "break the catcher’s leg" play, which I agree would be a super super dick move. See, in baseball, nobody knows in advance where the ball will be. Sometimes, the ball arrives at the catcher without enough time for him to leap like a gazelle out of the path of the runner. Then what? In your perfect baseball world, what happens? The runner is automagically out? The umpires call the play dead? An airbag busts up out of the ground and knocks the runner on his ass? What?

At no other position is a runner entitled to simply run over the defender hoping to dislodge the baseball before returning to touch the base safely.

Not correct. The line belongs to the runner. Defenders may attempt to block it, but they do so at their own risk, and they know that perfectly well. Haven’t you ever seen somebody slide like a sonuvabitch into second base to break up a double play? Believe it or not, it happens all the time.

When Alex Rodriguez tried to swat the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s glove in 2004 – with his hand, offering no chance at bodily harm to Arroyo – he was roundly mocked and called out for interference.

Sure, because A-Rod actually reached out and slapped Arroyo to try to get him to drop the ball. That is an entirely different situation from Arroyo just planting himself on top of the base to try to keep A-Rod from tagging it and then getting run over for his trouble.

After the game, Kevin Millar said this:

"If you want to play football, strap on some pads and go play for the Green Bay Packers."

Good stuff, Kevin. Funny. Here’s my new plan: let’s all listen to Kevin Millar, because he’s one of the great geniuses of western culture. And totally was not at the time playing for Arroyo’s team. Which is how we can tell he’s not biased!

But I wonder if A-Rod said anything. Anything at all. Oh, look, he did:

"[The umpires] said I should have ran him over, kind of like a catcher, that I can’t go out of my way to knock the ball out of his hand. I was perplexed by the whole situation. I don’t know what I tried do. I knew he was coming, and I know that the line belongs to me. Looking back, maybe I should have run him over."

Oh. So, actually… A-Rod and the umpires both say I’m right and you’re wrong. Damn, Dave. Maybe next time you could interrupt your angst with some research, and then you wouldn’t look like such a fool.

There was very little violence in Rodriguez’s actions, but because he initiated contact to try and dislodge the ball, it was considered a football-like move. Meanwhile, Cousins literally threw his entire body weight into Posey at home plate, breaking his leg in the process, but that’s okay because he was wearing a chest protector?

The level of violence is not the issue. The issue is that Rodriguez, as the umpires said, went out of his way to try to dislodge a ball. That’s illegal. Though I suppose, if Posey happened to be over by the visitors’ dugout at the time, and Cousins jagged off the line and crashed into him just to fuck him up, well, then you have a point.

I was a catcher in high school, and I was trained how to block the plate while trying to keep myself alive. High School isn’t MLB, but I still found myself in a few situations where a significantly larger player was barreling towards me at full speed, and I realized that I had to stop being a baseball player and start being a gladiator. It was ridiculous to me then and is ridiculous to me now.

So… you’re a pussy? Which is fine; I guess that’s why you write dopey hand-wringing internet columns that you don’t fact-check instead of playing baseball for a living. Your decision.

Millar is right – if you want to watch violent collisions, you can watch football. Or hockey. Or MMA.

Ah, now we pass judgment from our High Throne on the aesthetic preferences of all baseball fans everywhere. Classy. I won’t lie, though; the real reason I quoted this section is so I could quote this part:

Millar is right

Because I don’t think I’ve ever seen those words before. Not all together like that, I mean.

There’s no reason baseball needs to have similar kinds of plays; it’s an entirely different sport with a different premise and different rules. Well, at every base but home anyways.

No, Dave, you’re wrong. There is a reason baseball needs to have those kinds of plays, and it has nothing to do with those vulgar fans and their uncouth desire to watch nice kids with gay names have their legs broken. It is this: on a play like this, there is no time for the catcher to step back from the bag to put on the tag. He catches and turns. These plays are inevitable unless you wish to establish a new rule that says that the team on offense should only try to score if it looks safe. No, Scott Cousins! Don’t run for home! Someone could get hurt!

They know the risks, Dave, and they are well compensated. Perhaps they can be allowed to play hard and take those risks, and they don’t need nanny assholes like you lording your own priorities over them.

Major League catchers already endure enough wear and tear on their bodies as is. They break down in their early thirties and have the shortest careers of any position on the field. Why should we also expect them to have to stand in and take hits that no other player on the field has to take?

Because we don’t want our team to give up a shitload of runs by being giant pussies? That’s a reason.

Why do they have to be football players when everyone else gets to play baseball?

Take the melodrama down like eleven notches, dude. The overpowering majority of baseball games involve no collisions at the plate at all. Most of the rest involve very light, "safe" collisions. Somebody gets hurt once a year or so. Somebody gets hurt bad once a decade. This is not "being a football player," unless football’s gotten really soft while I wasn’t looking.

It’s in the best interest of the sport to keep the likes of Buster Posey and Carlos Santana healthy and on the field.

Oh, I forgot! What you want is for the Greater Good of Society! What the fuck is wrong with people that they think shit like this? It’s in the best interest of the Giants for them not to bail on close plays and give up extra runs. Chances of somebody getting hurt are small. Major-league catchers know the risks.

It’s not good for anyone that these guys end up on the disabled list because they were trying to hold their ground.

Sure. Sometimes shit happens. It’s also not good for anyone when overreacting busybodies try to reinvent the whole world when it does.

Just change the rules and make intentional contact with a catcher illegal, and make it illegal for catcher’s [sic] to impede the baserunner’s ability to run directly towards home plate.

Oh, is that all it takes? Just call players out if they ever touch the catcher? Don’t see how that’s a balance issue at all. Shouldn’t have any meaningful impact on run scoring. Oh, but wait! We’ll install a second system to fix the horrible, obvious brokenness of our first one! We’ll just make it "illegal" for catchers to block the plate! And… oh, wait, sometimes they have to catch the ball. So I guess they’ll just have to bail on it, then. Really, this system should be flawless, and will yield the exact kind of baseball you know you all want to see: a game full of runners afraid of running too hard, and defenders afraid of defending, because they can get called out for sinister intent.

It’s a simple fix to a real problem, and there’s no reason why we should continue to delay making this change.

Other than the fact that it will have giant, sweeping effects on the entire game, yeah, can’t think of a reason.

Buster Posey should be the last catcher in baseball history to suffer an injury on that kind of play. L

You should be the last fool in writing history to call for new regulations and not even bother to think it through first. F

May 26th, 2011 Posted by | Baseball | one comment

1 Comment »

  1. Speaking as a guy who plays baseball in a league where contact with the catcher is illegal, I’ll say it makes for a bunch of “judgement” calls by the umpire. In our league the runner is required to slide if there’s going to be a play. But how do you know there’s going to be a play? Sure, in a perfect world a base coach or team mate is yelling at you to slide, and you hear them. But sometimes that isn’t the case. Sometimes you go in standing up, not realizing the guy in center has a way better arm than you figured on and the catcher is in the process of fielding right when you get there. So are you out? By the rules, yes! But it ends up being a judgement call for the umpire. So in practise it ends up being at the whim of the umpire whether you’re out or not.

    The really ridiculous thing is that we do NOT have a rule barring the catcher from blocking the plate. He can block the plate all day long as long as he has the ball. So what do you do then? Well, by rule, you’re literally required to slide into his shin guard. It’s a horribly unbalanced situation–the runner cannot do anything other than slide, or he’s out regardless of the result of the play. But if he does slide, he can’t get to the plate anyhow because the catcher is in the way.

    Comment by Dave | 27 May 2011

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