I’m sure that everybody has seen the play. If not, you can see it in real time here. It is a very unfortunate situation for Buster Posey, but it is baseball. Period. End of discussion.
But there has been discussion. Lots of it in fact. Surprisingly, some of the most dangerous words have been uttered by people that should know better: something should be done to protect the catcher.
Really ? Garbage.
When people start tinkering with the game, they run the risk of breaking it. That’s exactly where talk like this is heading. Remember “in the grasp” and throwing the ball away when outside the tackles in football ? Yeah, that sure improved the sport.
July 12, 1970 – The American League at National League
The 12th inning of the All Star Game being played at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. Pete Rose was trying to score the winning run from second base on a single by Jim Hickman. Ray Fosse blocked the plate, but it was not enough as Rose ran into the Indians catcher, not only separating him from the ball, but Fosse’s shoulder too. The National League won the All Star Game, back when it mattered if you won or lost.
There was no crying about this play at the time. It is true that Fosse was never the same afterwards. His offensive production, especially the power metrics, went in the tank. His defensive skills dropped slightly, but did recover after a few seasons, indicating that his cannon of an arm was restored to most of its original caliber.
April 21, 1991 – Phillies at St. Louis.
Thanks to a big early blow up by Ken Hill, the Phillies had a huge 5-0 lead. The Cardinals picked away at that lead until a Gerald Perry triple tied the game in the bottom of the ninth.
In the next inning, Ray Lankford would draw a one out walk. He would then steal second base. Felix Jose would be intentionally walked to bring Gerald Perry back to the mound. Perry grounds out to first base, and the Phillies tried to turn a 3-6-3 double play to end the inning. Lankford continued around third base, anticipating the throw back to first. Instead of throwing back to first in futility, the Phillies throw home to catch the speedy Lankford. Darren Daulton is standing at home plate with the baseball in his hand. Lankford plows into Daulton and the ball rolls away. If you have not seen this play, it was something like when Wile E. Coyote gets hit by an oncoming train in the Roadrunner cartoons.
Lankford scores the winning run.
Lankford and Rose are still remembered today for their hustle. And courage, because it takes a lot to run into an armored player who is blocking your path, especially when running at full speed.
These are exactly the same thing that happened the other day in San Francisco. The only difference is that Posey is the reigning NL Rookie of the Year, and one of the great stories from the 2010 season. So what ? Both Fosse and Daulton were pretty special in their day.
All of these plays happened in extra innings, and that is very important to remember. These types of plays do not happen in a lopsided game, or in the fourth inning, where there is still a lot of baseball to be played. The reason they happen in extra innings is because the outcome of the game is about to be determined, and it is just a matter of which player wants it more. The MLB version of the chicken game.
They are a part of baseball, just like the umpire calling balls, strikes, fair and foul balls.
Let’s end the debate right here and now. If you do not have the stomach to watch a home plate collision, I suggest you find something else to occupy your entertainment hours. With 507 cable channels to choose from, I’m sure you can find Dancing With the Stars playing somewhere.
The next debate will happen when a Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay or Tim Lincecum is hit by a line drive and severely injured. What then, a protective screen like they use in batting practice ? Yeah, that will make the game a lot of fun to watch. At least it will present an opportunity to talk about Herb Score and what an amazing talent he was.