Inside Baseball: Colliding views

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 3:25 PM ET

No sooner had San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey been steamrolled in front of home plate by Scott Cousins of the Florida Marlins when the cry went up to place a partial ban on home plate collisions.

The T-boning of Posey by Cousins on Wednesday resulted in the Giants losing their star player for what is likely the rest of the season. His injuries are reminiscent of a car crash -- a broken left fibula and severe straining of his ankle ligaments. Replays of the collision are gruesome.

Posey is a terrific young player and his absence will put a severe dent in the Giants' chances of winning the National League West en route to defence of last season's World Series triumph.

Just like in hockey where an end to head shots is being championed, some in baseball want to take a look at the time-honoured tradition of a runner bowling over a catcher as he charges towards home plate.

No one is suggesting, nor should they, that what Cousins did was a 'dirty play'. It was hard-nosed for sure, but in no way was it a cheap shot or an intent to injure.

It was a base runner attempting to score a run. Beaten by the throw, he did not slide and instead did what every base runner in that situation is taught -- he tried to separate Posey from the ball by crashing into him.

Hard cashes at home plate are hardly new, they have been happening since the game's invention.

Catchers being seriously injured, that's the rarity.

These days, though, hard, smash-mouth collisions at the plate are rare birds, close to extinction. The reason for this is the money involved as neither the runners nor the catchers are willing to crash into each other willy-nilly as perhaps they did in the past. There is too much on the line financially.

Frequently catchers today go off the plate and up the line to get the throw, then sweep back behind them to attempt the tag, the runner given the plate to slide across.

Other times the throw moves the catcher into the path of the runner or the catcher taking the throw shifts his body to block the lane. Then it's wham-bam, every man for himself.

Those opposed to Cousins' charge say part of the plate was visible, he should have gone into a slide and that if runners elect to bang into a catcher when the plate is exposed they should either be tossed from the game or called out.

"He had two paths to go," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Cousins. "There was home plate there, but he decided to go at Buster who was close to home plate."

Posey's agent, Jeff Berry, in an effort to protect his client and asset from future harm, would like to see a rule change.

"You leave players way too vulnerable," Berry told ESPN. "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 play is often a split-second decision by both parties and a rule change to penalize runners for not sliding when a portion of the plate is open is too harsh and goes against the competitive spirit of the game.

FAULT LINES

It hasn't been a good week for either New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon or Oakland A's manager Bob Geren.

Wilpon continued the downward spiral of his beloved Mets through his critical comments about three of his star players in an excellent article in the New Yorker magazine. Then there were his follow-up comments regarding an expected $70 million loss this season and the resulting reduction in future team payroll.

But for an all-round sh***y week, as Wilpon would say, we believe Geren takes the cake.

Traditionally, players do not criticize their current coaches or managers for obvious reasons.

But this week Geren got roasted by his reliever Brian Fuentes. Then former A's closer Huston Street piled on.

It all leads to speculation that Geren's time in Oakland, despite being best buddies with general manager Bill Beane, is coming to an end. Usually when you start to lose the team, you are sooner than later shown the door.

Fuentes' beef was that as the closer he was being used in non-save situations, a situation where he was performing miserably.

He told reporters he's had "zero" discussions with Geren adding: "There's just a lack of communication. I don't think anybody really knows which direction he's headed."

Street's comments were far more damning as he told San Francisco Chronicle reporter Susan Slusser:

"Bob was never good at communication, and I don't want to speak for anybody else, but it was a sentiment reflected in many conversations during the two years I spent in Oakland, and even recently when talking to guys after I left. For me personally, he was my least favourite person I have ever encountered in sports from age six to 27. I am very thankful to be in a place where I can trust my manager."

Ouch.

The Mets, meanwhile, are attempting to make the best of a bad situation as Wilpon apologized a few days ago to Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, two of the players he ripped in the New Yorker.

The players felt the past is the past and following a team meeting said it's time to move on.

"(Wilpon) asked us how we were feeling about the whole situation, if the comments were bothering us," Reyes told the New York Post. "We understand there is a lot of frustration in the organization. We just need to move on.

"He can say whatever he wants to -- he's the boss and we are the employees here. All we can do is continue to play."

"I feel like I'm a veteran with this kind of thing," Beltran said of the criticism he received. "This is not my first time."

Jason Bay, who is overpaid and under-performing but not a subject of Wilpon's comments, said the team meeting was necessary.

"To not address it would have been the elephant in the room," Bay said. "Obviously it doesn't sound like Fred, (but) what's done is done. We've got everybody's back. The big thing was to not let it eat us from the inside out.

"When it's your teammates, it's tough. It happens. Maybe not this, but stuff happens."


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