SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — Nobody can really enjoy watching San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey have his season ended in a horrible home plate collision. It’s ugly, and the sight of Posey writhing in pain afterward is even uglier.
Yet plenty of baseball fans seem willing to say, “Well, too bad. That’s baseball.” For a hundred years, collisions at the plate have been part of the game, they say. That’s true, but I’m here to argue that it’s time for this to stop.
I hold no malice toward Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins for barreling into Posey. He did what Major League ballplayers do on that sort of play: he tried to run the catcher over. In his own words, “I decided to try and knock the ball loose.” In other words, his goal on the play was to separate Posey from the ball he was trying to catch. If you watch the video, you’ll see that Cousins’ path isn’t really to the plate–it’s toward Posey’s head.
In the big leagues, that’s a heads-up play and it makes you a hero in the clubhouse. In high school and college baseball, it makes you “out at the plate”. The NCAA realized that bigger, faster, more aggressive players were creating greater havoc in home plate collisions and that player safety was at risk on each of these plays.
The NCAA’s “Collision Rule” (Rule 8.7 in the college baseball rulebook) was amended before the 2011 season, and it makes one thing clear: runners trying to score have to try to score, not try to dislodge the ball from the catcher. The rule reads, in part, “Contact above the waist that was initiated by the base runner shall not be judged as an attempt to reach the base or plate.”
A runner who violates Rule 8.7 is out, and if the umpire finds the contact flagrant or malicious, is also out of the game–ejected.
Posey’s agent, Jeff Berry, has already served notice that he’ll ask Major League Baseball to do something about home plate collisions. As he points out, it’s ironic that the NFL has just toughened its rules to punish players who take headshots at defenseless receivers, yet MLB persists in applauding players who mow down catchers.
Again, I don’t fault Scott Cousins (and I’ll bet Buster Posey doesn’t, either). He was playing within the rules. But it’s way past time for those rules to change.
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