San Francisco catcher Buster Posey left yesterday's game after an ugly home plate collision with the Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins, and the reports today indicate that he has a broken leg and ligament damage, which will likely cost him the rest of the season.
Buster Olney asked a question today that I've been wondering for some time...why is it okay for catchers and baserunners to be involved in these collisions at home?
A baserunner can't run over a second baseman in order to try to knock the ball away from him when he's coming into second base. Second basemen aren't allowed to squat over the bag and try to cover it up while waiting for a throw while a baserunner is sliding in. So why is it okay -- not just okay, but expected -- with catchers?
Olney invoke Ray Fosse and Carlos Santana, and points out the foolishness of this practice being not just accepted, but encouraged:
It's time that catchers should be taught differently. And it may be time for Major League Baseball and the Players Association to talk about taking this play -- the catcher blocking home plate -- out of the sport.
Under baseball rules, a pitcher cannot intentionally hit another player with a pitch; doing that leads to warnings, ejections, fines and suspensions. There are rules in place, actually, against obstruction; if a third baseman moving into position for a relay from the outfield merely crosses in front of a runner and the umpire judges that the third baseman has impeded the runner, even without contact, the ump has the power to advance the runner.
But for some reason, a catcher is expected to plant himself in front of home plate, blocking access to the runner -- something which, by the way, is against the rules -- and the runner is expected to blast his way to home plate, in whatever manner possible. Both players are put at much greater risk than in any other play in the sport; it's like having a pile-driving contest in the middle of a tennis match.
Olney is absolutely right here. I don't expect anything to change, but MLB needs to do something. As Olney points out, there are already rules in place outlawing what catchers do in blocking the plate. If umpires start calling that, the plate-blocking will come to a halt, the home plate collisions go away, and this problem would be solved.
I wouldn't hold my breath expecting this to happen, though.