I’ve read several articles now about the Posey collision, and they all say the same thing, it’s part of the game. A lot of them also assert that it’s always been part of the game, the catcher blocking the plate and the runner blasting into him to try and dislodge the baseball and steal a run. That’s simply not true. Catchers didn’t always have to risk their livelihood protecting the plate. Look at the images of Jackie Robinson stealing home against Yogi Berra in the World Series, to use just one example.
And, really, what kind of argument is that? A second basemen can’t block the base. And the baserunner isn’t allowed to knock the ball out of the first baseman’s glove. Why should a catcher have to sit there and get run into by a 200 pound baserunner with a 90 foot head start? That’s a penalty in football, for crying out loud. Just saying that it’s been done that way is not, and never has been, a reasonable argument for doing anything.
Sure, I’m upset about the Giants losing Posey, and for the fact that his career might be in jeopardy (although recent reports seem to indicate he will be fine). But that doesn’t take away from the fact that that play shouldn’t be part of the game. Catchers already go through enough. There is no reason they should be exposed to that kind of risk. The rules don’t even have to be changed. It’s already against the rules for the catcher to block the plate without the ball, and it’s already against the rules for a runner to try and knock the ball out of a fielder’s hand.
The rules just need to be enforced, and the players need to think about their health a little more.
Giants broadcaster Duane Kuiper was quietly seething in the dugout, calling for change.
“I don’t know how,” he said. “They can figure that out in the Major League Baseball offices. But you can’t just have a guy out there defenseless like that. I stood out there defenseless at second base for 10 years (as a player) until they changed the rules about guys sliding with the sole intent of taking somebody out. So they can change it at home plate, too.”
UPDATE: I’ve now
had a chance to read some more pieces, and see that several writers have echoed my call for a rule change or enforcement. Over at Baseball Prospectus, Corey Dawkins and Ben Lindbergh cite the NCAA rule as a possible precedent for MLB to do something to protect catchers:
…. if the catcher/ fielder has possession of the ball and blocks the path of the base runner to the base (plate), the runner may make contact, slide into, or collide with a fielder as long as the runner is making a legitimate attempt to reach the base or plate. The runner must make a legal slide into or around the glove. Under NFHS rules, a runner cannot dive, hurdle, jump or go over the top of the catcher unless the catcher is prone. He cannot lower his shoulder and barrel over the catcher. As a result of his illegal action if the runner interferes, you have a dead ball and the runner is out.
Under NCAA rules, “When there is a collision between a runner and a fielder who clearly is in possession of the ball, the umpire shall judge whether the collision by the runner was avoidable (could the runner have reached the base without colliding) or unavoidable (the runner’s path to the base was blocked.)
“If the runner can avoid a collision when the catcher clearly has possession of the ball, the runner is called for interference if he attempts to dislodge the ball without making a bona fide effort to reach the plate”
What’s so hard about that? Again, just because something has been allowed to happen until now doesn’t mean it should be allowed to continue.