This is a repost of a blog I wrote on February 23, 2012. It’s in response to the little nasties that are surfacing blaming Buster Posey for the new rule changes involving direct hits on the catcher at the plate. Class act that he is, Buster’s remaining mum on the subject. But I’m not. So for those who haven’t been on planet earth for the past two years, once again, here’s the photo that negates the “blocking the plate” theory. So please, put a sock in it.
The only reason I’m bringing this up again is because Calcaterra over at Hardball Talk said Posey was told to “stop” blocking the plate. This implies that Posey “was” blocking the plate, which he was not as the photo above clearly shows. The runner intentionally left the baseline with a spectacular charge aimed directly towards the catcher with no intention of getting to the home plate. The runner, Scott Cousins, said later his intention was to dislodge the ball~ which he could not, because Buster never had it.
But here’s what’s really amazing about this photo. Notice the umpire. No one had a better birds-eye view than this umpire, standing steadfast and staring intently at the play as it was happening and boom! Crash! Bam! Slam! The play’s over and the umpire calls the runner safe, run counts, and the catcher is lying mortally wounded* (defined below) on the field. What the heck was he thinking? The umpire I mean.
Somehow it seems reasonable that MLB Rule 7.08 (b) could be construed to somehow apply in this situation. A good attorney could probably make it work. I don’t know. I’m just saying the umpire has total charge of the game. And in this case I think he let this one get by. Too bad. Would have been a real feather in his cap if he’d stepped up to the plate (no pun intended) took a stand and said something like “No more! This ain’t gonna happen on my watch”. Like the NFL did when they made it illegal to spear with their helmets, with no intentional blows to the head.
Who knows? An umpire taking a stand. Might have changed the game forever. He has the authority to do that you know. Baseball needs a little cleaning up. It’s not just bulldozing the catcher at the plate that can get really nasty, but what about all those pitches thrown at the batter’s head, back, arm, foot, leg in retaliation for some stupid reason (there are hundreds of them) that everyone knows about, including the umpires. They all know what’s going on. It’s extremely rare that a pitcher gets thrown out of a game for hitting or trying to hit a batter, even though it happens regularly. And if a pitcher does happen to be ejected for intentionally hitting a batter the minimum fine is a whopping $200! (MLB Rule 8.02) Can you believe it? Who makes these rules. I mean a batter could get killed, and has, from one of those bean balls.
Here in the land of fruits and nuts according to Wikipedia, “on April 6, 2006, in a case arising from a game involving community college baseball teams, the Supreme Court of California ruled that baseball players in California assume the risk of being hit by baseballs even if the balls were intentionally thrown so as to cause injury.” So I guess the message is if you’ve got the moxie to do it, do it in California.
You might notice I’ve not once tried to blame any of this on Scott Cousins (see my June 4, 2011 post). Scott was doing what he was trained to do which is to do everything he can to win. And he did.
No, this is something that falls on the Major League Umpires Association. They’re the only ones who can get this violent aspect of the game under control and they don’t need any rule changes to do it. If they’d start bouncing players out of the game when they resort to these retaliatory pitches and the unnecessary violence at the plate and elsewhere, the players would get the message and it would stop. The question is, will they? The answer is, probably not. They’d have to move a tad out of their comfort zone and who the heck wants to do that?
* Mortally Wounded Defined: A mortal wound is a very severe and serious injury (almost always a form of penetration or laceration) whether accidental or inflicted intentionally…
- Giants tell Posey not to block plate this season (sfgate.com)
- Scott Cousins Speaks Out For First Time Since Buster Posey Injury (bayarea.sbnation.com)
- You: Buster Posey Is a Catcher and Should Stay a Catcher (bleacherreport.com)
- Crasnick: Posey positive in his return from knee injury (espn.go.com)