Despite Buster Posey injury, MLB should not change the rules

Last week, the San Francisco Giants endured a huge blow. Catcher Buster Posey suffered a broken ankle and torn ligaments in a home plate collision with Florida Marlin Scott Cousins. Posey was positioned in front of the plate waiting from the throw from right field. As Posey received the catch, he tried to make a sweeping tag on Cousins as he came home. Cousins collided with Posey at the plate, knocking the ball loose, scoring the game winning run, and breaking Posey’s ankle.

Immediately, Posey’s agent Jeff Berry contacted the Major League Baseball offices to protest collisions at home plate and the vulnerability that catchers face. Here are Berry’s major points:

1. Posey was in front of the plate and never blocked the plate, even after receiving the throw from right field.

2. As Cousins reached home, he crossed over the third base line from foul territory to fair territory and lowered his shoulder into Posey.

3. Posey leaves the plate exposed allowing Cousins to have a clear path to slide into the plate.

It’s obvious why Berry is freaking out. As a Giant’s fan, I’m freaking out. The Giants just lost their starting catcher, the National League Rookie of the Year, and all-around offensive machine. Posey will undergo surgery and most likely be out the rest of the season, possibly preventing the Giants from winning back-to-back World Series championships.

Although I’m upset Posey is injured, Major League Baseball should not change rules to protect the catcher. Collisions are part of baseball and have been for decades. Base runners running from first to second try to slide into the opposing player at second base to break up double plays; it’s part of the game. However, according to official MLB Rules and Regulations:

(e) If, in the judgment of the umpire, a base runner willfully and deliberately interferes with a batted ball or a fielder in the act of fielding a batted ball with the obvious intent to break up a double play, the ball is dead. The umpire shall call the runner out for interference and also call out the batter-runner because of the action of his teammate. In no event may bases be run or runs scored because of such action by a runner.

I have seen many questionable slides into second base that have hindered the second basemen or shortstop (whoever is covering second base at the time) from completing the double play. But the base runner sliding into second is not always called for interference or obstruction. Rules should not be left up to the “judgement” of the empire. There should be a concrete rule with stricter guidelines so that the call is consistent. This rule does not mention base runners heading for home plate, and I don’t think it should. Base runners should be able to contend with the catcher to score runs.

As for the actual play at the plate with Posey and Cousins, Posey was posed in front the plate to receive the throw from Nate Schierholtz in right field. As Posey received the throw, he made a sweeping motion to tag Cousins. Cousins dives towards the plate and collides with Posey. As gruesome as the play was, it was perfectly legal. Cousins has every right to try to knock the ball out of Posey’s hand. There is no way that Cousins can tell if Posey has caught the ball or not. His goal as the base runner (game winning base runner, in this situation) is to make the play at home, and that means knocking the ball out of Posey’s glove to score. As Cousins collided with Posey, Posey’s foot got caught under him, causing his ankle to bend at an odd angle and break. This was an unfortunate accident, but Cousins should not be blamed.

No one likes to see an injury, especially a season ending injury to a great player like Posey. But it’s all part of the game. The Giants need to keep their head high and use this time to work with backup catcher Eli Whiteside or work on obtaining Benji Molina or Pudge Rodriguez to work as a backup.

Meanwhile, Major League Baseball should refrain from making any drastic changes to the rules of baseball.

Here’s a link from ESPN blogger, Buster Olney.


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2 responses to “Despite Buster Posey injury, MLB should not change the rules”

  1. John Strubel says :

    Rachel — You may want to do some fact-checking. “Base runners running from first to second try to slide into the opposing player at second base to break up double plays; it’s part of the game. By implementing a rule to protect the catcher, the MLB would have to make a rule to protect the players on first, second and third base, as well.”

    If you check MLB rules, there is a rule in place for all the bases — expect home.

    • Rachel Starr says :

      Thanks for your input. My dad corrected me also (he used to umpire). I will correct my statement. There is a rule and it is enforced for the most part. But I’ve seen some pretty dangerous slides into second that have not been called. It seems as though sliding into other players to knock the ball out of player’s gloves has become a norm. If anything, MLB should more strictly enforce the rules to protect the players on the field. But thanks for you input, I really appreciate it!

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