After Buster Posey broke his fibula and tore three ligaments in his ankle in 2011, I expected Major League Baseball to take measures toward protecting their players and prevent what happened to Posey from happening to anyone else. However, as seen with the recurring bone-crushing collisions at home plate every year, the MLB has not acted.
This controversial topic gained steam this week after two current MLB managers and former catchers, Mike Matheny and Bruce Bochy, both stated their beliefs that MLB should ban the baserunner’s option to slam into the catcher at full speed when attempting to score a run. According to Matheny, Bochy and ESPN senior baseball writer Buster Olney, change to the rule is “not a matter of if, but when.”
Last year during Posey’s NL MVP campaign, Bochy told him to avoid blocking the plate at all costs because the Giants could not afford to lose the best hitter in their lineup. Posey got extremely lucky that his collision with Scott Cousins in 2011 did not have a more severe impact on his career. The Mets handled the situation similarly with their promising catcher, Travis d’Arnaud. Coaches decided to forbid him from standing his ground at home plate. He has already injured his knee once, and as a catcher, another injury would not bode well for the longevity of his career.
Player safety should take precedence over everything when it comes to the sports and entertainment business. Some might argue that collisions add to the excitement of the game and is a financial incentive because it attracts more fans, but I don’t buy that argument for a second. Catchers who support the proposition to ban collisions at home might ask their opponents, “Have you ever been blind-sided by a 220-pound athlete running at full speed?” Most football players sure have, and these collisions at home plate are horrifically similar to the jarring hits banned in football. I believe baseball should and will follow the NFL’s example but the time table of implementation is anyone’s guess.
I can’t help but wonder if Posey had not returned from his injury by winning the NL MVP or had he not returned to baseball at all, whether or not the MLB would have chosen to take action at that point. Perhaps in this case, the phrase, “...until someone gets hurt” could be translated to “…until someone’s career ends.”
Yesterday, Olney tweeted a very interesting side of the argument. The tweet read, “An evaluator I talked to loosely pegged the dollar value of one attempt at blocking home at $125,000, vs. '12 value of Posey to SFG -- $36m.” (via @Buster_ESPN)