San Francisco Giants: Buster Posey Injury Prompts Call for Rule Change

Kevin JamesonCorrespondent IMay 26, 2011

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - MAY 22:  Buster Posey #28 of the San Francisco Giants singles to left field against the Oakland A's  in the third inning at AT&T Park on May 22, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  The Giants won 5-4 in 11 innings.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Reigning National League Rookie of the Year Buster Posey, catcher for the San Francisco Giants, suffered a broken bone in his left leg last night during a home plate collision with Florida Marlins outfielder Scott Cousins. Chris Haft of is reporting that Posey will likely miss the remainder of the season.

Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post blogs today that, "Cousins was in tears this morning, telling reporters how bad he felt," and he quotes Cousins as saying, “It’s everywhere. No matter where I look. It’s on TV as a soon as I turn the TV on. It’s outside on TV. It’s on TV here as soon as I walk in. And when I see it I turn away. I juts dont like knowing that I could have possibly ended somebody’s season."

Whenever a player in any sport is badly injured, some variation of following questions is invariably asked: Why did it happen? Could it have been prevented? Is the sport doing enough to protect its players?

In this instance it seems that at least Giants manager Bruce Bochy and Buster Posey's agent Jeff Berry believe the answer to that last question is, "No," and they think it's time for a rule change.

Bochy, a Major League catcher for nine seasons, said in an interview today that, while he understands things like this happen in baseball, he believes that catchers "are in harm's way [in these situations]," and that the MLB, "should consider changing the rules a little bit," (See video for Bochy's full comments.)

Posey's agent Jeff Berry is none too pleased about this either:

"You leave players way too vulnerable. I can tell you Major League Baseball is less than it was before [Posey's injury]. It's stupid. I don't know if this ends up leading to a rule change, but it should. The guy [at the plate] is too exposed.

"If you go helmet to helmet in the NFL, it's a $100,000 fine, but in baseball, you have a situation in which runners are [slamming into] fielders. It's brutal. It's borderline shocking. It just stinks for baseball. I'm going to call Major League Baseball and put this on the radar. Because it's just wrong."

It is easy to understand how Bochy and Berry could be so upset. They are probably each a little upset with themselves in allowing Posey, who is arguably the best hitter on a team that ranks last in the National League in runs, to be behind the plate.

Catcher is unquestionably the most dangerous position on a baseball field and already this season there have been a handful instances where Posey has been dinged up behind the plate. But maybe they should take a few days to cool down and realize that, while Posey's injury is unfortunate, it is (say it with me) a part of the game. 

There are dozens upon dozens of plays at the plate every baseball season and the number of them that end in catastrophic injury can be counted on one hand. Things like this are going to happen from time to time. It is nonsensical to believe that every time somebody gets injured in sports a rule change is warranted.

Posey found himself in an awkward position as Cousins hit him at the plate. He was positioned on his knees with his butt on his feet. Had he been in a squat, as he was the instant before Cousins hit him, he likely would have rolled over and not suffered this injury. It was an unfortunate sequence of events where Posey ended up in the wrong position at the wrong time.

One has to wonder how much this has to do with the fact that this is Buster Posey—fan and league favorite, World Champion, and NL Rookie of the Year—and not, say, Ryan Doumit of the Pittsburgh Pirates. If Posey weren't such a productive member of his team and so important to Major League Baseball's marketing department, would anybody be this upset?

I can't help but be reminded of the NHL. When Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins suffered his season-ending concussion last year, people started to buzz a little bit about player safety. But it wasn't until Sidney Crosby was concussed in the middle of this season that the NHL really began its crusade against hits to the head. How come nobody calls for rules changes until a high-profile player is seriously injured?  

Sports are sometimes dangerous. There are times when these dangers supersede the entertainment value of the game and a change needs to be made. Catchers suffering injury on plays at the plate is not an epidemic on par with concussions in the NFL, as Mr. Berry would have us believe. This was an unfortunate accident and nothing more. Hopefully the MLB realizes that and stays away from the rulebook.